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Revealed through diaries, newspapers and memorabilia held in State Library collections, discover the early days of a little known but living faith, Unitarianism. Its motto ‘open hearts, open minds’ speaks of a progressive faith grounded in the importance of social justice and education.

The first Unitarian Minister John Crawford Woods arrived in Adelaide in 1855, joining prominent families such as Ayers, Clark, Hardy, Rymill and Simpson in his congregation. The Library has JC Woods’ four volumes of handwritten Rambling recollections 1891-1907 which have been transcribed to be read online.

Catherine Helen Spence was the first female Unitarian preacher and the Library holds some 80 of her sermons which have been transcribed to be read online. Spence was also an unwitting participant in a scandalous divorce case in 1902 involving the Unitarian Reverend Alexander Wilson.

This presentation was recorded as part of the State Library's Live and Learn program on 15 August 2023.

Presenter: Carolyn Spooner, Engagement Librarian

Image: Catherine Helen Spence c 1900, SLSA: B 11192