Unitarian Christian Journals
Yesterday and Today
The General Repository and Review (1812-1813)
In 1812, Andrews Norton, a tutor at Harvard, took over as editor of The Monthly Anthology and Boston Review and revamped it. Changing the title to The General Repository and Review, he redesigned the journal to promote the new liberal theology of Unitarianism. There were departments of theology, review, and foreign literary news, as well as a literary department containing poetry, biography, and selected material. The journal also published news on Harvard. Contributors included Edward Everett, Noah Worcester, Joseph Buckminster, James Freeman, and John Pickering. In the middle of its second year, editorship of the Repository was turned over to “A Society of Gentlemen.”
Bibliographic Notes: published quarterly; 8 issues total (Jan 1812-Oct 1813).
Editor(s): Andrews Norton (nos. 1-6); "A Society of Gentlemen" (nos. 7-8).
Publisher: W. Hilliard; Cambridge, Mass.
The Christian Disciple (1813-1823)
Established by a group of Unitarians, the monthly Christian Disciple was written in large part by its editor, Noah Worcester, and promoted the causes of Unitarianism and peace. Its purpose was “the promotion of spiritual and moral improvement” and its contents consisted of essays on various religious topics, religious news, biographical sketches, book reviews, and poetry. Worcester had become an advocate of international peace during the War of 1812, and was prominent in the foundation of the Massachusetts Peace Society in 1815, when he also began the quarterly Friend of Peace. At the end of 1818 he turned the Disciple over to Henry Ware, Jr., in order to give his full attention to the advocacy of peace. Ware expanded the title to The Christian Disciple and Theological Review. After five years, Ware resigned the editorship to John Gorham Palfrey, who renamed it The Christian Examiner and Theological Review (see below).
Bibliographic Notes: published monthly (as The Christian Disciple), vols. 1-6, 1813-18; published bimonthly (as The Christian Disciple and Theological Review), vols. 1-5, 1819-23.
Editor(s): Noah Worcester (1813-1818); Henry Ware, Jr. (1819-1823).
Publisher: Cummings and Hilliard; Boston, Mass.
The Unitarian Miscellany and Christian Monitor (1821-1826)
The Miscellany published articles on doctrine, discussions of Calvinism, and much on Unitarianism, including the history of Unitarianism, as well as sermons, memoirs, letters, essays, poetry, obituary notices, and ordinations. It was controversial in a liberal spirit, it was positively denominational, and it had a large and widely extended circulation.
Bibliographic Notes: published monthly; 72 issues total (Jan 1821-Dec 1826).
Editor(s): Jared Sparks (Jan 1821-Dec 1823); Francis W. P. Greenwood (Jan 1824-Dec 1826).
Publisher: Baltimore Unitarian Book Society; Baltimore, MD.
The Christian Register (1821-1957)
This leading Unitarian weekly, published by the American Unitarian Association, included contributions by William Ellery Channing, Henry Ware, Jr., Andrews Norton, George Bancroft, Jared Sparks, and Edward Everett. In addition to articles on religion and news of the religious world, it presented foreign, domestic, and local news, activities of the Massachusetts state legislature and local courts, proceedings of Congress, book reviews, biography, and poetry of a religious nature. It first appeared on April 20, 1821. In July of 1835, its name was changed to The Christian Register and Boston Observer, then back to The Christian Register in October 1843. It was published continuously for the next century, becoming less and less focused on Christianity, until 1957, when the title was changed to The Unitarian Register. In 1961, the journal merged with The Universalist Leader and is still published today as UU World.
Editor(s): David Reed (1821-1825)
Publisher: American Unitarian Association; Boston.
The Unitarian Defendant (1822)
Defending Unitarian beliefs was the purpose of the Unitarian Defendant. It consisted mainly of essays, some serialized, including “On the Attempt to Deprive Unitarians of the Name of Christians,” which ran through the second, third, and fourth numbers, and “Unitarians Defended by Their Opponents,” which ran through numbers 5, 6, 10, and 11. Only eleven numbers were published.
Bibliographic Notes: 44 pp; biweekly (irregular); 11 issues (June 22-Nov 16, 1822).
Publisher: ?; Charleston, S.C.
The Liberal Christian (1823-1824)
This Unitarian magazine contained articles on religion in general as well as articles on the Unitarian doctrine, and presented comparisons of the Unitarian religion with others. Extracts from books and sermons, and occasional prayers and hymns rounded out the contents.
Bibliographic Notes: 8 small quarto pages.; published biweekly (irregular); 1 vol. (Jan. 11, 1823-Mar. 6, 1824).
Editor(s): Samuel J. May
Publisher: ?; Brooklyn, Conn.
The Christian Examiner (1824-1869)
The Christian Examiner was founded as The Christian Disciple in Boston in 1813 (see above), changing to the name by which it became well-known in 1824. Like the Disciple, the Examiner promoted “spiritual and moral improvement,” focused mainly on religious topics, and included some book reviews, religious news, and poetry. In 1857 Frederick H. Hedge and Edward Everett Hale took charge; this was a turning-point in the magazine's history, representing a triumph of more liberal ideas in New England Unitarianism, and the complete surrender of the Examiner to transcendentalism. The Examiner is one of the most important of the American religious reviews for several reasons: it was a tower of strength for Unitarians, defending the Unitarian point of view for more than half a century and waging war against The Spirit of the Pilgrims, an anti-Unitarian magazine; it did distinctive work in literary criticism; and it commented on social, philosophical, and educational problems. Its scope was broad; history, biography, theology, and even political discussions were given space in it. In 1870, the Examiner merged into Old and New (see below).
Bibliographic Notes: published bimonthly Jan 1824–Nov. 1869; 87 total volumes; series 1 (1824-1828, 5 vols.) as The Christian Examiner and Theological Review; series 2 (1829-1835, 13 vols.) and series 3 (1835-1843, 17 vols.) as The Christian Examiner and General Review; series 4 (1844-1857, 27 vols.) as The Christian Examiner and Religious Miscellany (after absorbing The Monthly Miscellany--see below); series 5 (1857-1865, 17 vols.) and series 6 (1866-1869, 8 vols.) as The Christian Examiner.
Editor(s): John Gorham Palfrey (1824-1826); Francis Jenks (1826-1831); James Walker and Francis W. P. Greenwood (1831-1839); Francis W. P. Greenwood and William Ware (1839-1847); Alvan Lamson and Ezra Stiles Gannett (1847-1851); George Putnam and George E. Ellis (1851-1857); Frederic Henry Hedge and Edward Everett Hale (1857-1861); Thomas B. Fox, William R. Alger, and Joseph H. Allen (1861-1865); Henry Whitney Bellows and Joseph H. Allen (1866-1869).
Publisher: O. Everett; Boston, Mass. (1824-1865); C. S. Francis; New York, NY (1865-1869).
The Unitarian (1827-1828)
A journal "devoted to the statement, explanation, and defence of the principles of Unitarian Christianity."
Bibliographic Notes: published monthly; 1 vol., 4 issues, Nov. 18, 1827–Feb. 15, 1828.
Editor(s): William Ware
Publisher: ?; New York, NY.
The Western Messenger (1835-1841)
The Western Messenger was considered one of the most important magazines published in the West during the years when “West” meant the region between the Appalachians and the Mississippi. Though usually regarded as a literary periodical because of its poetry and criticism, it was begun primarily as the organ of the Unitarian religion. The editors were chiefly clergymen, and sermons and doctrinal essays were prominent. But after the first two years, it became less and less sectarian. As a regional magazine, the Messenger felt the obligation to interpret the Western country; it published much on religion, literature, and culture of the West, sketches of Western preachers, and a series on “Western poetry.” But the group who founded it derived their chief inspiration from New England. The Unitarian sermons were by such famous New England preachers as N.L. Frothingham, George W. Hosmer, and Francis Parkman; some of the poetry and criticism was by New England transcendentalists, such as Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Jones Very, and the editors were all transplanted New Englanders.
Bibliographic Notes: published monthly (irregular), 96 pp.; 8 vols.; title varies slightly. Published in Louisville by the Western Unitarian association [etc.] Apr. 1836–Apr. 1839. Publication suspended from Nov. 1839–Apr. 1840.
Editor(s): Ephraim Peabody (June 1835-Feb 1836); James Freeman Clarke (Mar 1836-May 1841).
Publisher: T. H. Shreve; Cincinnati, OH.
The Monthly Miscellany of Religion and Letters (1839-1843)
This miscellany was intended to furnish religious reading, discussing subjects of religion and morals, as well as literature in its religious aspects; and also to convey religious news, particularly in relation to the history of the Unitarian church in both the U.S. and Britain. Though founded on Unitarian views, it was not controversial. Contents included sermons, religious news, book reviews, essays, poetry, and listings of ordinations and dedications. Merged into the Christian Examiner (see above) in 1844.
Bibliographic Notes: published monthly, 48 pp., 9 vols. total.
Editor(s): Cazneau Palfrey (1839); Ezra Stiles Gannett (1840-1843).
Publisher: W. Crosby; Boston, Mass.
The Monthly Religious Magazine (1844-1874)
The Monthly Religious Magazine began with Unitarian affiliations, and its contributors were chiefly great Unitarian writers, but the content was substantially undenominational. It was first a pamphlet of religious miscellany for family reading, but in 1858 it became more general and more denominational and theological. Its title varied throughout its history. From 1844 to 1855, it was known simply as The Monthly Religious Magazine. From 1856 to 1860, it was called The Monthly Religious Magazine and Independent Journal, after which it went back to its original name for several years. In January 1870, it became The Monthly Review and Religious Magazine. In August of that same year, the title was inverted to The Religious Magazine and Monthly Review. For its final two numbers (Jan.–Feb. 1874), its name was The Monthly Religious Magazine and Theological Review. It was then superseded by The Unitarian Review (see below).
Bibliographic Notes: published monthly; 51 vols. total.
Editor(s): Frederic D. Huntington (1844-1858); Edmund H. Sears and Rufus Ellis (Jan 1859-June 1870); Edmund H. Sears and James W. Thompson (July-Dec 1870); John H. Morison (1871-1874).
Publisher: L. C. Bowles; Boston, Mass.
The Christian Inquirer (1846-1866)
The Christian Inquirer, one of the leading Unitarian weeklies of its time period, expressed evidence and proof for the “liberal Christian” sect with articles on “Scripture Proofs of Unitarianism” and “The Position of Unitarianism Defined.” Unitarian news, religious instruction, stories, poems, notices of books and new publications appear. Topics include “A Juvenile Department,” “Mahomet and the Koran,” travel stories, and rights of women. Absorbed by The Liberal Christian (see below) in 1866.
Bibliographic Notes: published weekly; 21 vols.; ran Oct 17, 1846 to Nov 29, 1866.
Publisher: Unitarian Association of the State of New York; New York, NY.
Old and New (1870-1875)
Versatile and well-informed, Edward Everett Hale plunged into the editorship of Old and New, a journal designed to replace The Christian Examiner (see above). He managed quite well to display his personality throughout the file, but five years later, he reported that the strain was too much. Perhaps it was not the strain of editing, but of trying to mesh the literary and political review with the theological magazine. In his attempt to please everyone, he managed to disgust the Unitarian Association (who had backed the new venture) and bore the serial readers with purity. There were some outstanding contributions by Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Trollope, Christina Rossetti and others in addition to those of the editor. The journal merged into Scribner's Monthly at the end of its run.
Bibliographic Notes: published monthly; 11 vols.
Editor(s): Edward Everett Hale
Publisher: Hurd and Houghton; New York, NY.
The Unitarian Review (1874-1891)
The Unitarian Review was as a replacement for The Monthly Religious Magazine (see above). Although the Review listed an outstanding file of contributors, the editing was rather dismal. The file contains a great deal of interesting material dealing with theology and literature. Articles of art, music, and economics are also included. Superseded by The New World (see below).
Bibliographic Notes: published monthly; 36 vols. (March 1874-December 1891); title varies: The Unitarian Review and Religious Magazine (1874-1886), The Unitarian Review (1887-1891).
Editor(s): Charles Lowe (Mar-June 1874); H. W. Foote (Aug-Dec 1874); John H. Morison and H. H. Barber (1875-1879); H. H. Barber and James De Normandie (1880-1884); James De Normandie (1885-1886); Joseph Henry Allen (1887-1891).
Publisher: L. C. Bowles; Boston, Mass.
The New World (1892-1900)
A quarterly review of religion, ethics and theology, The New World was a replacement for The Unitarian Review. John White Chadwick, Joseph Henry Allen, Charles B. Upton, Josiah Royce, George A. Barton, William H. Lyon, and many others contributed the reviews and essays.
Bibliographic Notes: published quarterly; 9 vols., 36 nos. total (Mar 1892-Dec 1900).
Editor(s): Orello Cone, Charles C. Everett, Crawford H. Toy, and Nicholas P. Gilman.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; Boston and New York.
The Unitarian Christian (1947-present)
Publication of the Unitarian Christian Advance (now the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship), which began as an organization for Boston-area churches and quickly expanded to a national organization (primarily of individuals). The first suggested name was The Unitarian Christian , but the title Our Faith was chosen instead and was used until May 1950, when the original suggestion was adopted. The first issue was published in April 1947, with copies distributed through churches and via the AUA's weekly "packet." The first issues of Our Faith caused considerable discussion about whether or not "controversial" articles should be printed, with the general consensus being that it should not become an organ of attacks upon the AUA administration, nor should it deal with primarily political or economic issues. One committee member expressed that opinion "that we could not avoid controversy but that we should not seek it ," and another hoped it would avoid taking "an intemperate, critical or acid attitude" but rather would take a stand for the theistic position in Unitarianism without becoming combative (March 28, 1947). The name of the periodical was changed in May 1950 to The Unitarian Christian, the name for which it is best known, and in 1969 to The Unitarian Universalist Christian.
Bibliographic Notes: published quarterly; volumes 1 through 8 were 6" x 9", basically a pamphlet which grew from four pages to sixteen pages per issue; volumes 9 (1953) through 18:3 (1963) were printed in a larger 8" x 10 1/2" magazine format; with volume 18:4 the current 6" x 9 1/4," journal format was adopted.
Editor(s): Harvey Swanson
The American Unitarian (2002-present)
Publication of the American Unitarian Conference, formed in 2000 to revive and promote the classical Unitarian tradition. The journal is dedicated to the discussion of religion, including theology, philosophy, faith, ethics and Unitarian history. It provides its readership with information and news about the activities and plans of the American Unitarian Conference and addresses pastoral issues and questions of polity and governance. Its goal is to become "an important forum for the rigorous discussion of liberal religion in general and the Unitarian faith in particular" and to "help give rebirth to the intellectual strength that Unitarianism once possessed." The journal eschews political and public policy discussions.
Bibliographic Notes: published quarterly; 44 pp.
Editor(s): Dean C. Fisher (Jan 2002-June 2003); D. R. Miano (September 2003-present).
Publisher: American Unitarian Conference; Mason Neck, VA.