Congregational Library & Archives

Congregational Library & Archives Founded in 1853, the Congregational Library & Archives holds over 250,000 items documenting the history of one of the nation's oldest and most influential
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05/10/2020

Wishing a happy and healthy Mother's Day to everyone this year!

Today, Jules Thomson, Assistant Archivist, brings us a docu-drama worthy tale from her recent work with the records of t...
05/07/2020

Today, Jules Thomson, Assistant Archivist, brings us a docu-drama worthy tale from her recent work with the records of the Congregational Churches in Lebanon and Durham Connecticut.

The CLA, through it's NEHH program and a partnership with the Connecticut Historical Society Museum and Library, has been able to digitize important church records from CT. In this blog post, Jules, with much humor, highlights the documentary history, now digitized, of dramatic disputes that erupted in Durham and Lebanon over the location of their meeting houses. In Lebanon, the conflict got so heated that the ensuing situation was called "The Meeting House War!"

Give it a read! And let Netflix know that we think this might be able to dethrone the Tiger King as the top docu-drama.

And read it here: https://bit.ly/CTDrama

The CLA will always be accessible to anyone wishing to learn more about Congregationalism and its role in US history. Yo...
05/05/2020

The CLA will always be accessible to anyone wishing to learn more about Congregationalism and its role in US history. Your generosity this #GivingTuesday ensures that the CLA can continue and expand its digitization, preservation, and public programming.

http://www.congregationallibrary.org/GivingTuesday

Today is #GivingTuesdayđź“·! The CLA could not exist today if not for the amazing generosity of our donors. Thanks to you, ...
05/05/2020

Today is #GivingTuesdayđź“·! The CLA could not exist today if not for the amazing generosity of our donors. Thanks to you, the CLA is a thriving center of research. There is no better time than today to show your support for your favorite organizations.

http://www.congregationallibrary.org/GivingTuesday

We are back with another entry in the Beacon Street Diary, this time with a post by our librarian, Sara Trotta.Sara has ...
05/04/2020

We are back with another entry in the Beacon Street Diary, this time with a post by our librarian, Sara Trotta.

Sara has recently been leading the staff through an in-depth look at the library's sometimes mysterious and impenetrable classification scheme. Today, Sara discusses one of the reasons why this recent work is so important; namely that it is necessary to engage with past decisions and correct/adjust as time goes on. The CLA's classification scheme is certainly not without its quirks and Sara humorously describes a few of the more anachronistic issues within it with this wonderful peak behind the CLA's classification curtain.

And of course tune in Wednesday with a blog post by our new Executive Director, Stephen Butler Murray.

http://www.congregationallibrary.org/blog/202005/adventures-through-catalog-and-what-we-found-there

The new Mon/Wed/Fri blog post schedule continues, this time with an article written by our Archivist, Zachary Bodnar.Ada...
05/01/2020

The new Mon/Wed/Fri blog post schedule continues, this time with an article written by our Archivist, Zachary Bodnar.

Adapted from an article that appeared in the April newsletter, Zachary takes a look look at how the Congregational Library & Archives is actively readying itself for the digital future through conferences, internal discussions, and a partnership with AVP.

In specific, Zachary recounts the theme of the recent Digital Commonwealth conference and how those themes resonate with the mission of the CLA's burgeoning digital initiatives. Then he discusses how the CLA is working with AVP to find and implement a new digital asset management system that will transform the way the CLA delivers digital content to you and make those materials more accessible.

Tune in again to the Beacon Street Diary on Monday with an article written by our Librarian, Sara Trotta.

http://www.congregationallibrary.org/blog/202005/cla-digital-future

We have some exciting news today from the staff of the CLA. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday there will be a new staf...
04/29/2020

We have some exciting news today from the staff of the CLA. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday there will be a new staff written blog post appearing on the CLA's blog, the Beacon Street Diary. And that new posting schedule starts today!

We start with a highlight from the CLA's collections written by our very own Processing and Reference Archivist, William McCarthy. Today he is highlighting the journal of William A. Hallock, an agent of the New England Tract Society. This journal, written between 1822 and 1823, highlights William's daily travels to sell tracts and increase society subscriber numbers. As McCarthy eloquently states, the Hallock diary "can inform us on the state of economics, travel, salesmanship, and more" in early 19th-century New England. This item, too, is just part of a larger volume of materials related to the New England Tract Society, and related societies, held by the CLA.

And come back on Friday for another blog post, this time by our Archivist, Zachary Bodnar

http://www.congregationallibrary.org/blog/202004/hallock-journal

04/24/2020

April's CLA Newsletter is now in your inbox. Hope it finds you healthy and well!

The CLA continues to find parallels between the past and our current crisis within it's collections.  This time, we look...
04/02/2020
Beacon Street Diary blog | Congregational Library & Archives

The CLA continues to find parallels between the past and our current crisis within it's collections. This time, we look at the 18th century medical notebooks of Rev. Ebenezer Parkman.

Archives Assistant Jules Thomson has played an instrumental role in the publication of materials digitized for the CLA's New England's Hidden Histories project. Through this work she became fascinated by Rev. Parkman's medical notebooks and some of the parallels found within to today's crisis. Rev. Parkman saw firsthand the ravages of disease through the Great Throat Distemper (1735-1740), and like parallels between the Flu of 1918 and social distancing, we can see parallels between Throat Distemper and a desire for a quick and easy cure.

It is important that we all, through this crisis, look to medical professionals for advice and expertise. Please, to all of our patrons and friends, stay safe and healthy.

http://www.congregationallibrary.org/blog/202004/most-excellent-remedy

Snake oil cures for Covid-19? No, but good guess. These are some ingredients from medical “recipes” compiled in the mid-18th century by Congregational minister Ebenezer Parkman. Rev. Parkman, a Harvard graduate who resided mainly in Westborough, Mass., is most historically notable for the detail...

03/24/2020

The March CLA Newsletter is now arriving in your inboxes! Hope it finds you all healthy and well!

This isn't the first time that Congregationalists have had to enact social distancing; during the 1918 flu pandemic Cong...
03/18/2020
Beacon Street Diary blog | Congregational Library & Archives

This isn't the first time that Congregationalists have had to enact social distancing; during the 1918 flu pandemic Congregationalists across the nation turned towards novel ways to continue Sunday worship without stepping into a church.

Sara Trotta, the CLA's librarian, has just written a blog post about a pamphlet in our collections titled "Seven Little Messages: Written during the Churchless Sundays of the influenza, for Utahns, through the Salt Lake Tribune" and explores the parallels between our current situation and the situation of Congregationalists in 1918.

The staff at the library are grateful we are able to continue much of our work remotely. We’re here to answer your questions and we very much hope you reach out.

As we smile and wave to our neighbors from a respectable 6 foot’s distance before returning home to furiously wash our hands and anxiously wait for the next press conference, it may be comforting to remember that social distancing to brace ourselves against the spread of a global pandemic is nothi...

Apologies for the tardiness of this news post, but the February edition of "New at the CLA" is now live!The staff also w...
03/17/2020
New at the CLA: February 2020 | Congregational Library & Archives

Apologies for the tardiness of this news post, but the February edition of "New at the CLA" is now live!

The staff also wanted to take a moment to talk briefly about the CLA moving forward through this public health crisis. The arrival of the novel coronavirus to Massachusetts has led to Governor Baker's recent declaration of a state of emergency and the arrival of significant restrictions on public spaces. The CLA is proud to do it's part to limit community transmission of Covid-19. Until further notice, the CLA's physical facilities will be closed to the public and all staff will be working remotely. Digital services, such as the reference desk, will continue to be open. Please know that all the staff are currently healthy and safe and we wish the same to all of you.

Check back here for more updates in the coming days as the staff begin working on the creation of some social distancing programs we can offer you, our valued users, during these extraordinary times.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 Appologies for the late February update. A lot happened at the beginning of the month which pushed back the completion of this post until now. First among them were the near completion of renovations, which took a lot of staff time as they began to reorganize new and old spac...

03/10/2020

Dear friends,

You may not be surprised to learn that our upcoming event, “Talking About 1620: New Perspectives on the Pilgrim Legacy” has been cancelled due to the coronavirus situation. In just the past few days, major universities in Boston have gone to on-line classes and prohibited large gatherings, and there’s no doubt many more closings are in the offing.

Our staff is in the process of refunding you the ticket price. If you have any problems or questions please email Katie Kass at [email protected].

We hope to reschedule at a future date, and will keep you all apprised of developments there.

Thanks so much for your interest in our event, and in the Congregational Library and Archives. Hope to see you all in quieter times.

Peggy Bendroth

Dr. Margaret Bendroth
Congregational Library & Archives
14 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 523-0470

It's all starting to come together!  Furniture was delivered today and installation should be completed Monday.  It's al...
02/28/2020

It's all starting to come together! Furniture was delivered today and installation should be completed Monday. It's all getting to be very exciting here!

As always, check out our renovations webpage for even more pics and updates: https://t.co/5Hid2uQ8ws https://t.co/IO5qP2C137

The library director's new office just got carpeting today and it looks fantastic!  Renovations are nearing the end and ...
02/20/2020

The library director's new office just got carpeting today and it looks fantastic! Renovations are nearing the end and in fact staff are scheduled to move into new offices the first week of March!!! Check the link below for even more renovation updates and photos!

http://www.congregationallibrary.org/about/renovation

02/18/2020

This spring marks an end and a beginning. Dr. Margaret Bendroth, who has served as executive director of the CLA since 2004, will retire and Dr. Stephen Butler Murray will come in to lead the organization into its future. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray comes to his position at the Library following years of experience in academic administration, most recently as president of Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, as well as having served as pastor of churches in Massachusetts, New York, and Michigan. With degrees from Bucknell University (B.A.), Endicott College (M.B.A.), Yale University (M.Div.), and Union Theological Seminary in New York City (Ph.D.), he has deep roots in New England, having worked at Suffolk University, Endicott College, and Harvard University. Please see our newsletter which is out now for additional details.

02/17/2020

The Library will be closed on Monday, February 17th in honor of Presidents’ Day. Please join us when we reopen on Tuesday, February 18th.

In January the staff of the CLA read The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell as part of our new book club initiative.  Our L...
02/03/2020
Beacon Street Diary blog | Congregational Library & Archives

In January the staff of the CLA read The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell as part of our new book club initiative. Our Librarian, Sara Trotta, has written up an awesome blog post reviewing the book and going over what the staff got out of our follow-up discussion. Give it a read if you have the chance and if you happen to be a member The Wordy Shipmates is a part of our circulating collection!

Next month the staff will be reading The Book: a History of the Bible by Christopher De Hamel.

It should come as no surprise that when librarians (and archivists) want to learn more about something, they hit the books. In order to deepen our knowledge of the collection, the CLA staff has resolved to start 2020 off by reading and discussing one book a month related to the collection and our wo...

It's a new year and a new us! And one of the staff's resolutions is to bring to you a monthly update sharing with you al...
01/31/2020
New at the CLA: January 2020 | Congregational Library & Archives

It's a new year and a new us! And one of the staff's resolutions is to bring to you a monthly update sharing with you all the new resources, collections, and everything in between that have been worked and made available in the month. So we present to you the January edition of "New at the CLA":

We are excited for what 2020 may bring and hope to see you all soon!

Friday, January 31, 2020 It is a new year for the staff of the Congregational Library & Archives! And with the new year comes new resolutions. Starting now, with this January 2020 report, the CLA's staff will be using this space to report on all of the new resources, collections, and everything in b...

Renovations continue to progress at a rapid clip as ceiling tiles and new light fixtures continue to go up! We are still...
01/24/2020

Renovations continue to progress at a rapid clip as ceiling tiles and new light fixtures continue to go up! We are still on schedule to be done with renovations by around early March. For even more updates and images, keep checking out our renovation page: http://www.congregationallibrary.org/about/renovation

Here's an event you might be interested in-"Make it Plain: The Legacy and Agency of People of Color in the Massachusetts...
01/21/2020
Research Project: “Make It Plain: The Agency and Legacy of People of Color in the Massachusetts Council of Churches.” – Massachusetts Council of Churches

Here's an event you might be interested in-"Make it Plain: The Legacy and Agency of People of Color in the Massachusetts Council of Churches" will take place on Saturday, January 25 from 1:00-2:30 PM (inclement weather date Feb. 1) at Reservoir Church, 170 Rindge Avenue Cambridge, MA 02140-2528. Click link for more info-https://www.masscouncilofchurches.org/research-project-make-it-plain-the-agency-and-legacy-of-people-of-color-in-the-massachusetts-council-of-churches/

At this critical moment, we are aware that the MCC has more than often been a council for *some* of the churches. With a grant from Mass Humanities, made possible by the Mass Cultural Council, we are doing own organizational homework on how race and racism have been a part of our history. We seek to understand how the official history of the MCC may overlook people and communities of color who played an important role in Massachusetts religious life. We also seek to lift up the work of people and communities of color in the MCC’s internal and external efforts.

The Massachusetts Council of Churches (MCC) is pleased to announce its new research project “Make It Plain: The Agency and Legacy of People of Color in the Massachusetts Council of Churches.”

01/20/2020

Due to the library renovation work, the CLA library will be closed from Tuesday, January 21st to Monday, February 3rd. Our staff will be available by phone at 617-523-0470 ext. 102 or email at [email protected].

01/01/2020

Our New Year's Goal is to get this page to 2020 followers by the end of 2020 so please share the love! Happy New Years!

12/24/2019

Merry Christmas from
the CLA Family
to yours!

12/21/2019

Check your inbox for a special holiday edition of the CLA newsletter!

11/28/2019

Happy Thanksgiving from the CLA family to yours! We are so thankful for you!

Curious about the state of our renovation?  Then check out the renovations section on our website for constant updates! ...
10/29/2019

Curious about the state of our renovation? Then check out the renovations section on our website for constant updates! Most recently, construction crews discovered and refurbished some of the original Rock Maple flooring. This beautiful flooring will now be restored for all the hallways in the new office space!

See more in-progress pictures and updates here: http://www.congregationallibrary.org/about/renovation

10/18/2019

Start the weekend with the CLA October Newsletter. Check your inbox to get yours!
Happy Friday!

Packed house today at the CLA for the riveting “My name is Opukahaia”. Make sure to follow and like our page so you are ...
10/09/2019

Packed house today at the CLA for the riveting “My name is Opukahaia”. Make sure to follow and like our page so you are the first to know about exciting future events! #Hawaiianmissionhouses

09/19/2019

YAY! We're reached over 1000 CLA Followers! Thank you for supporting our online community!

09/16/2019

Our September newsletter is now live! Check your inbox for the latest CLA News!

08/15/2019

Check your inbox for our new August Newsletter available now! 🤩

The Library is thrilled to share our special History Matters co-presented Old South Meeting House!  Here's the link to t...
08/14/2019
Interracial But Not Integrated: Colonial Churches | Forum Network

The Library is thrilled to share our special History Matters co-presented Old South Meeting House! Here's the link to the thought provoking lecture by Richard Boles.

A special History Matters co-presented by the Congregational Library & Archives and Old South Meeting House. By attendance at services, being baptized, and taking the Lord’s Supper, numerous Native Americans and mostly-enslaved African Americans participated in a substantial number of New England ...

07/19/2019

Beat the heat and read our new July Newsletter in your inbox now!

Address

14 Beacon St Ste 206
Boston, MA
02108

We are easily accessible by public transportation and encourage visitors to use the MBTA. The nearest subway stop is Park Street Station, at the intersection of the Red Line and Green Line. Upon exiting Park Street Station, turn left and walk up Park Street, toward the Massachusetts State House. Turn right on Beacon Street. The library is located on the second floor of 14 Beacon Street. It is less than a five-minute walk from the Park Street station.

General information

The Congregational Library & Archives is an independent special collections library and archives located on the second floor of the Congregational House at 14 Beacon Street in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. The Library was founded in 1853 by a gathering of Congregational ministers and has since evolved into a professional library and archives that holds more than 250,000 items, predominantly focused on 18th to 21st century American Congregational history. The Library's reading room is free and open to the public for research but the Library's stacks are closed and book borrowing privileges are extended exclusively to members. The Library welcomes visitors and researchers of all backgrounds and experience level, from folks with a passing interest in history to family genealogists to scholars utilizing our collection for a thesis. If you have any questions, please send a message via Facebook or an email to [email protected] and a member of our team will respond to you as soon as possible. Please visit our website If you would like to browse our online catalog, become a member, or learn more about our New England's Hidden Histories program.

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(617) 523-0470

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Comments

Do you posses a copy of a history of West Congregational Church that I wrote a decade ago: Wheat & Weeds in a Country Parish? I was pastor of the church during the 1960s and associate until about 2001. I was professor at NECC for 3 decades, retiring 2001 as emeritus. My education: The Roxbury Latin School (Boston), Wheaton College (Illinois), Fuller Theological Seminary, and Boston University (PhD in philosophy).
Everyone should know about this organization.