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May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society Records

An inventory of its records at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: -
Date: unknown

Biographical History

May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society began in 1838 in Syracuse, New York. Its founders had left the Congregational Church of New England in Boston, preferring to study the gospels for themselves and worship according to individual conscience. The church was originally named "Church of the Messiah." Members of the congregation were active in the community; their second minister, Samuel Joseph May, was a well-known abolitionist and reformer best remembered in Syracuse for his part in the escape of Jerry, a runaway slave, memorialized in the "Jerry Rescue" sculpture in downtown Syracuse's Clinton Square. In 1885 the church moved to James Street and named their new stone building "May Memorial Church" in his honor; some time later the group voted to change their name to May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society Records, comprising the papers and records of seven ministers beginning with Samuel Joseph May, covers over 100 years. Folder titles given in the inventory below are for the most part the original ones, exactly as received; in the few cases where a folder title was supplied by staff, it is given in square brackets [ ].The collection is only roughly organized, divided according to the tenure of each minister:

Contents include letters, photographs, deeds, wills, pew rental contracts, legal papers, marriage records, clippings, articles, books, Orders of Service, Sunday School reports, and many other items.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Some restrictions on reproduction.

Subject Headings


Applebee, John H.
Argow, Waldemar W.
Calthrop, Samuel R.
Canfield, Glenn O.
Fuller, John C., Rev.
May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871.
Romig, Robert E.
Storer, John, Rev.

Corporate Bodies

May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society.


Unitarian churches -- History.
Unitarian churches -- New York (State)


Syracuse (N.Y.) -- Social life and customs.

Genres and Forms

Legal files.
Programs (documents)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society, various dates.

Table of Contents

John Storer, Minister 1839-1844

Samuel Joseph May, Minister 1845-1868

Samuel R. Calthrop, Minister 1868-1911

John H. Applebee, Minister 1911-1929

Waldemar W. Argow, Minister 1930-1941

Robert E. Romig, Minister 1941-1946

Glenn O. Canfield, Minister 1946-1952

John Fuller, Minister 1961-1973