I found some further illuminating details which touch on the youthful Lovecraft’s involvement with the Universalist Men’s Club in Providence. Here is an article from 1922 (Cambridge Chronicle newspaper, 4th March 1922) in the fourth paragraph of which a visitor from the Providence men’s club visits the Cambridge equivalent, and reminds the laymen members there of their founding aims (the press report not actually going into detail on these, sadly)…

comrades

Following up the group’s name, it seems “The Order of Universalist Comrades” would be the title of such Clubs, at least by the early 1920s. I have found another reference to a branch of the “Universalist Comrades” in The Lewiston Daily Sun (17th Feb 1922). Yet The Universalist Register (available online to 1918) contains no mention of any Comrades. It seems likely that the name was changed after Lovecraft’s likely years with the organisation (his involvement perhaps sometime between 1906-1914), with the name change perhaps around 1921 or 1922? It strikes me that, in the radical political times after 1919, renaming the Men’s Club as “The Order of Universalist Comrades” might have been meant to appeal to naive youth looking for clubs of either the right or the far-left. But the Comrades seem to have vanished as an organisation during the years of the Great Depression…

“[Fred Colwell Carr, 1873-1936] was a native of Rhode Island and most of his life was passed in Providence” “He was national secretary of the now defunct organization, the Universalist Comrades.” “For the past eighteen years he has been secretary of the Universalist Convention of Rhode Island.” (The Christian Leader aka The Universalist Leader, Volume 39, Issue 4, 1936, p. 125) My emphasis.

This Carr name is interesting, and he must be the same Carr who spoke at the Cambridge meeting in 1922 (see the press cutting above). Carr may thus give us the name of someone connected to the Providence Men’s Club in Lovecraft’s time, when Carr would have been in his 40s and a possible leader of the Men’s Club. His name leads to me a list of its officers in Providence in 1922…

“The Universalist Comrades: President, Mr. E. S. Burlingham, 11 Progress Ave., Providence; Vice-President, Mr. Anson Wheelock, Woonsocket; Treasurer; Mr. Daniel E. Peckham, 30 Gurney St., East Providence; Secretary, Mr. Fred C. Carr, …” (Universalist Biennial Reports and Directory, 1922)

But there the trail goes dead. Sadly his 1936 obituaries are inaccessible online, due to copyright. They might have told us if he led the Men’s Club in Providence before the First World War, and something of the nature of the youth work then done in Providence. He also shows up in the record as Frederick Colwell “Freddie” Carr (1873-1936).

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