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The Living Legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Welcome

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An Exhibition Commissioned by the Emerson Bicentennial Committee of the UUA (2003)

“The Living Legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson” as presented at Harvard Square Library draws from a series of programs and resource materials developed for the Emerson bicentennial in 2003. The Emerson Bicentennial Committee commissioned an exhibit by Bonnie Hurd Smith that was shown at the 2003 GA, at the UUA headquarters and various congregations, including Shelter Rock. Working with Robert Richardson and Frank Schulman, Smith also produced an exhibit book, which the creators have generously allowed HSL to produce online as “The Living Legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson” as it appears here. Funding for this exhibit, as well as other events, came from the UUA, the Fund for Unitarian Universalism, the UU Sunday School Society, First & Second Church in Boston, the UU Historical Society, and the Shelter Rock congregation.

Emily R. Mace, Director

March, 2014

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson
courtesy of the Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School


The Emerson that emerges from these pages is a flesh and blood Emerson, a man of strong convictions and wide associations, one who experienced personal losses as well as public acclaim, a deeply spiritual person who was also a prominent citizen, rooted in his community and actively engaged in the issues of his time.

This is also a fresh Emerson. Thanks to a new generation of scholarship and the availability of lectures never before published, Unitarian Universalists today are invited to discover an Emerson we never knew before—in many ways a new Emerson for a new century, and more timely than ever.

Our profound thanks to Bonnie Hurd Smith and her advisors, Rev. Frank Schulman and Robert D. Richardson, Jr., for this tribute to the living legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. We are also grateful for the financial support of the Fund for Unitarian Universalism which made this project possible.

The Reverend Dr. Barry M. Andrews

Chair, Emerson Bicentennial Committee