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MC 760

Matson, Rosemary. Papers of Rosemary Matson, 1971-2011: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from Elizabeth Leutner.

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 760
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Rosemary Matson
Title: Papers of Rosemary Matson, 1971-2011
Date(s): 1971-2011
Quantity: 5.21 linear feet (12 + 1/2 file boxes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Personal papers, correspondence, writings, and professional papers of Rosemary Matson, feminist and lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 2011-M211
The papers of Rosemary Matson were given to the Schlesinger Library by Rosemary Matson in November 2011.

Processing Information:

Processed: March 2014
By: Genna Duplisea, with assistance of Emily Underwood.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the unpublished papers created by Rosemary Matson is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Rosemary Matson Papers, 1971-2011; item description, dates. MC 760, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Donors: Rosemary Matson
Accession number: 2011-M211
Processed by: Genna Duplisea
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to Schlesinger Library's printed materials division (pending review by curator):


Humanist, feminist, and long-time lay leader in the Unitarian Universalist Association, Rosemary Matson (b.1917) was a co-founder of the First Unitarian Fellowship (now Church) of Honolulu in the early 1950s. Moving to California to work for the Pacific Coast Unitarian Council, she met Rev. Howard Matson whom she married in 1957. In 1962 he became associate minister at the San Francisco Unitarian Universalist Society while she worked at the Starr King School for the Ministry, fund raising and advocating for women in the ministry.
In 1977 she was instrumental in seeking the passage of the Women and Religion Resolution at the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly. As chair of the Continental Committee on Women and Religion (1977-1980), Matson was part of the movement to rid the denomination of sexist practices, including rethinking theology, correcting sexist language in hymns and readings, and exposing and transforming sexist attitudes regarding leadership capabilities. She was co-author, in 2004, of curriculum entitled Unraveling the Gender Knot: Challenging the System That Binds Us. Matson was active with the United Nations (attending a number of international conferences on women), the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation, and Humanists of America, among many others. In 2011, she was awarded an L.H.D. from the Starr King School for the Ministry.


The collection is arranged in two series:


The collection includes biographical information, writings and research materials, and professional records. The bulk of the collection documents Matson's involvement with the Women and Religion Continental Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association, created by resolution in 1977, and her involvement with other feminist theological groups within the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Series I, PERSONAL AND WRITINGS, 1974-2011 (#1.1-1.23), includes Matson's correspondence and materials related to her honorary doctorate from the Starr King School for the Ministry as well as writings and research materials. Writings by Matson include newsletter and magazine articles as well as speeches, and focus on gender and Unitarian Universalist history. The series also includes research materials collected by Matson on sexist language, women's history, and women-oriented worship services. Series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, PROFESSIONAL RECORDS, 1971-2009 (#2.1-13.14), includes records produced as part of Matson's professional activities in several Unitarian Universalist organizations, in particular the Women and Religion Continental Committee. Also included are the Ministerial Sisterhood Unitarian Universalist, National Assembly of Women Religious, Unitarian Universalist Association, Unitarian Universalist Heritage Project, Unitarian Universalist Historical Society, Unitarian Universalist Peace Network, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation. These records include correspondence; administrative documents; event packets from women-focused religious meetings and activist leader conferences; research materials for sexism audits (organizational reviews of sexism in policies and practices); organizational publications; and uncatalogued photographs. Series is arranged alphabetically, then chronologically.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Feminist theology--United States
Feminists--United States
Humanists--United States
Sexism in religion--United States
Unitarian Universalists--United States
Women and religion--United States
Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation
Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation. Women and Religion Committee