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Archives and Special Collections: Digital Collections

Digitization is core to the mission of the Meadville Lombard Archives and Special Collections. Through digitization, we can help scholars and the broader UU community to quickly and easily access our archives regardless of where they are. This page will provide an overview of our digital holdings and access to search tools to help navigate 40,000+ pages of digitized material in our digital collections.  

Digital Collections Overview

Our digital holdings mainly consist of the digitized material from our physical collection. We also have an increasing number of born-digital items available. Our emphasis is liberal religion in the west, 20th century Unitarian Universalism, and communities underserved and excluded by traditional archives. All of our digital collections have been funded by generous donations and grants. Because of our emphasis on communities underserved and excluded by traditional archives, the vast majority of digitization materials come from our Special Collections

When we digitize archive materials, we are doing more than simply scanning documents. Each item is described with metadata we have tailored to fit our documents and our community. We pay careful attention to the relationship between naming and power, ensuring that the terms used to describe digitized items reflect how the communities that created the documents describe themselves.

Quick Keyword Search

To quickly begin using the digital archives, use the keyword search below. This will search both metadata and all printed text within any digitized item. 


Digital Collections List

Papers are archival collections created by an individual or family.  While most of our digitized personal papers are those of ministers, we also have papers of lay leaders, activists, and other individuals whose lives and experiences are important to Unitarian Universalism. 

Records are archival collections created by organizations. These can include congregations, UU affiliated organizations, or organizations with historical connections to Unitarian Universalism. 

Collections are archival collections that do not have a clear creator, such as an individual or organization, but are organized around a specific theme or historical event. 

Meadville Lombard Records are archival collections created by Meadville Theological School, Lombard College, and Meadville Lombard Theological School. 

Advanced Searches

Subject (topical) describes what the item or items are about. What is the general topic or subject of the material.
Subject (personal) describes who the item or items are about. This can be an individual’s name, a family name, or an organization or business name – including congregations. Not all items will have a Subject (personal).
Genre/Form describes what the item is in terms of physicality or purpose, as opposed to what the item is about. These terms describe a combination of the form (a characteristic of works with a particular format and/or purpose) and the genre (categories characterized by themes) into a single descriptive term. For example, “Orders of service” from a congregation have a particular format that reflects their use and cover common themes for religious communities.
Sermon or Speech topic describes what a sermon or speech is about. It is similar to Subject (topical), but specifically relates to the subject matter of a delivered address.
Denominational origin describes which religious body the item’s creator(s) were originally aligned with. For Unitarian Universalist congregations or individuals within the Unitarian Universalist community, this can be the American Unitarian Association, the Universalist Church of America, or the Unitarian Universalist Association. This is a great deal to do with chronology, whether the congregation came to be or an individual came to prominence before or after the Unitarian and Universalist merger in 1961.

Ask an Archivist

If you have any questions about the Meadville Lombard Archives and Special Collections, just ask!

We can help with...

  • Scheduling an archive visit
  • Accessing archival materials
  • Using our digital archive tools
  • Answering reference questions
  • Scanning selections of documents
  • Donating archival material to Meadville Lombard
  • Creating archives at your local congregation