Postcards of Unitarian and Universalist Church Buildings

Postcard of North Orange, Mass., Universalist Church.
Postcard of North Orange, Mass., Universalist Church.

In December 2004, the library received a grant from the American Theological Library Association to digitize and catalog postcards of Unitarian and Universalist church buildings. There are now 878 distinctive images available for searching through the Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative of the American Theological Library Association and Association of Theological Schools.

Identifiable buildings where Unitarian and/or Universalist religious services or activities took place were chosen, including some community or union churches and academic buildings. In a number of cases, there are several distinctive views of the same building. Postcards featuring interior views and architectural features were also included. In many cases, the buildings are identified in a caption on the postcard. In some cases, however, there is only a handwritten note or ambiguous notation. There are a few caption errors. The name of the congregation at the time the postcard was produced is listed as the title and subject. The form of the name is, in many cases, the one chosen by the Library of Congress and may or may not be the current form used today.

Other information was transcribed into the searchable database:

  • a description of the building, including building materials and distinctive architectural features;
  • a description of any additional objects in the image;
  • caption information from the back of the card and important information from the front;
  • the type of photo or drawing;
  • the type of postcard;
  • any postmarked dates;
  • the recipient of the postcard;
  • manufacturing information.

The core material for this project was a then unprocessed collection of approximately 300 postcards of New England church buildings. Additional postcards from the Congregational Resource Files (bMS 902) and the Council of Liberal Churches' Photographs of Unitarian Universalist Churches collection (bMS 15001) were also pulled to be digitized and are now included in a more comprehensive collection of postcards (bMS 349). This new collection also includes some postcards of church buildings that are not Unitarian or Universalist and some postcards that have been added since the grant project; these have not yet been digitized.