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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Operating as usual

Our librarian Sara brings you another extremely useful reference guide, this time for tracking down church records:http:...
01/27/2021

Our librarian Sara brings you another extremely useful reference guide, this time for tracking down church records:

http://congregationallibrary.org/blog/202101/how-did-you-find-churches-and-their-records

It includes an overview of how we collect records here at the CLA, and identifies some of the challenges you might encounter while researching Congregational churches in particular. Plus links to the best resources to get you started! (and of course, you can always chat with us directly too).

01/26/2021
The World of Plymouth Plantation: Author Interview with Dr. Carla Pestana

We've just added another thoroughly enjoyable author interview to our series:

Dr. Carla Pestana, UCLA History Professor and Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America in the World, is interviewed by Dr. Adrian Weimer about her new book, "The World of Plymouth Plantation".

Their conversation touches on the letters of William Bradford, colonial courts and their treatment of Native peoples, and reframing the traditional Pilgrim story as a refugee narrative. Truly fascinating stuff, regardless of your level of familiarity with colonial history.

01/15/2021
"One Small Candle": Author Interview with Dr. Francis Bremer

In this latest gem in our ongoing video series, Rev. Charles Hambrick-Stowe interviews Dr. Francis Bremer about his most recent book, "One Small Candle: The Plymouth Puritans and the Beginning of English New England". Their thoughtful conversation touches on efforts to commemmorate the 400th anniversary of the Plymouth landing, the international nature of the Pilgrim story, the inclusion of Native American perspectives, and the relevance of Pilgrim collectivism in the modern era.

01/11/2021

So, admittedly, posting this announcement last Wednesday PM wasn't the best timing 😅

To reiterate, we just launched a more expansive new guide for finding Black, Indigenous, and people of color within our early American collections. Check it out!

http://congregationallibrary.org/POCFindingAid/Introduction

01/08/2021
Interview with Dr. Jeremy Bangs

We invite you to enjoy another exclusive historian interview, this time with Dr. Jeremy Bangs, preemininent authority on the history of Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrims.

Dr. Bangs is the former curator of Plimoth Plantation, director of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum Foundation, and author of (among others) "Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners: Leiden and the Foundations of Plymouth Plantation," and "New Light on the Old Colony: Plymouth, the Dutch Context of Toleration, and Patterns of Pilgrim Commemoration."

Dr. David Lupher of the University of Puget Sound facilitates this talk with Dr. Bangs, in which they cover his career trajectory, his publication of the Scituate, Mass. town archives, his research on Native land deeds, colonial inventory records, and reflections the commemmoration of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing.

Thanks as always to Dr. Francis Bremer, Program Committee chair, for organizing this interview.

We are beyond pleased to announce a substantial new finding guide for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color withi...
01/06/2021

We are beyond pleased to announce a substantial new finding guide for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color within our digitized NEHH records. The multi-part guide, written by Prof. Richard Boles (Oklahoma State University) with oversight from Dr. Jean O'Brien (University of Minnesota) and Dr. Christopher Cameron (UNC Charlotte) contains contextual topic overviews and links to resources in multiple categories, including own voices / firsthand writings, churches and institutional records, Indigenous-focused records, vital statistical information, and primary resources on antislavery and abolition.

http://congregationallibrary.org/POCFindingAid/Introduction

From the Guide's Introduction...

"New England’s Hidden Histories is pleased to highlight a number of records relating to Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) in early New England Congregational churches. Though historians have long recognized that the early Congregationalists’ missionary impulse led them to establish Native American “praying towns,” and that some Congregational churches included Black, Native, and mixed-race parishioners, including people enslaved by white parishioners and clergy, the experiences of these underrepresented populations have received relatively scant scholarly attention. In fact, the participation of Black and Indigenous people in early American Congregational churches was both significant and longstanding, as were their contributions to Congregationalism as church members, lay preachers, and ordained ministers."

From all of us at the Congregational Library, we wish you a very Merry Christmas. Stay safe and well, and we'll see you ...
12/25/2020

From all of us at the Congregational Library, we wish you a very Merry Christmas. Stay safe and well, and we'll see you next year!

12/22/2020
"They Knew They were Pilgrims" - an author talk by Prof. John G. Turner

The CLA is proud to present another exclusive author talk with John G. Turner.

Dr. Francis Bremer interviews Prof. Turner about his new book, "They Knew They were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty" - published for the 400th anniversary of the Plymouth landing.
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"In 1620, separatists from the Church of England set sail across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. Understanding themselves as spiritual pilgrims, they left to preserve their liberty to worship God in accordance with their understanding of the Bible.

There exists, however, an alternative, more dispiriting version of their story. In it, the Pilgrims are religious zealots who persecuted dissenters and decimated Native peoples through warfare and by stealing their land. The Pilgrims’ definition of liberty was, in practice, very narrow.

Drawing on original research using underutilized sources, John G. Turner moves beyond these familiar narratives in his sweeping and authoritative new history of Plymouth Colony. Instead of depicting the Pilgrims as otherworldly saints or extraordinary sinners, he tells how a variety of English settlers and Native peoples engaged in a contest for the meaning of American liberty."

"Description and Discoverability" might sound like a rejected Jane Austen novel, but they're actually key archival conce...
12/17/2020

"Description and Discoverability" might sound like a rejected Jane Austen novel, but they're actually key archival concepts! Zack uses a real NEHH collection to illustrate how our upcoming digital asset management system, Quartex, will revolutionize the search and findability of our digital records:
https://bit.ly/DescriptionAndDiscoverability

(If you couldn't tell, we're pretty excited to get the system up and running in the coming months...)

12/15/2020
"Speaking with the Dead in Early America" - an author talk with Prof. Erik R. Seeman

What a fantastic interview with historian and author Dr. Erik Seeman about his book "Speaking with the Dead in Early America" - winner of the 2020 Lawrence W. Levine Award from the Organization of American Historians.

Prof. Seeman talks about Spiritualism, Colonial-era understandings of death and spirits, Victorian mourning customs, and much more.

And as if one world class historian wasn't enough, the interview is brought to you by Dr. Francis Bremer and Dr. Adrian Chastain Weimer, both of whom serve on our CLA board of directors.

#Spiritualism #Mediumship #WomensHistory #AmericanHistory #CottonMather #VictorianMourning #Gravestones #DeathPortraits #AuthorTalks

Currently editing an exciting interview with author/historian Erik Seeman, on his new book "Speaking with the Dead in Ea...
12/15/2020

Currently editing an exciting interview with author/historian Erik Seeman, on his new book "Speaking with the Dead in Early America"... stay tuned! #Spiritualism #Mediumship #WomensHistory #AmericanHistory #CottonMather #VictorianMourning #Gravestones #DeathPortraits #AuthorTalks

Our Reference & Processing Archivist William is back with another blog highlighting hidden gems in our collections. This...
12/08/2020

Our Reference & Processing Archivist William is back with another blog highlighting hidden gems in our collections. This time it's the records of the Knightsville-Franklin Congregational Church in Cranston, RI, whose history dates back to 1807 but which sadly closed its doors in 2009:
https://bit.ly/KnightsvilleFranklin

The collection includes a wide array of church records, ephemera, photographs, and also the records of auxiliary societies like the women's club, the Fellowship Club, and the Sunday School.

Read more about our new partnership with @TheAdamMatthewGroup and their digital asset management system, Quartex, on the...
12/07/2020

Read more about our new partnership with @TheAdamMatthewGroup and their digital asset management system, Quartex, on their website:

https://www.quartexcollections.com/news/item/congregational-library-archives

We couldn't be happier with this choice, which was made after months of research and consultation with various vendors.

Included are some quotes from our staff about why the system is such a good fit.

An aspirational stationary header from the William E. Barton papers (Fol. 2). The poulterer's name is actually Adam Risi...
12/03/2020

An aspirational stationary header from the William E. Barton papers (Fol. 2). The poulterer's name is actually Adam Rising (hence "A Rising"), but he seems to have made it into a pun. How fowl.

12/02/2020
The Mayflower Compact - a virtual lecture by Dr. Francis Bremer

Preeminent colonial historian Dr. Bremer is back for an insightful talk about the Mayflower Compact, its creation, some popular (mis)conceptions surrounding it, and the way we interpret the legacy of the 400th anniversary of the Plymouth landing today. Not to be missed!

As part of the nation-wide #GivingTuesday campaign, the Congregational Library and Archives is asking those with a passi...
12/01/2020

As part of the nation-wide #GivingTuesday campaign, the Congregational Library and Archives is asking those with a passion for history to contribute to this internationally recognized resource for scholars, religious leaders, and local churches.

Your contributions help us identify, digitize, and make freely available the historic records of America's past. You will also be supporting our remarkable collections and educational programs, alongside our distinctive New England Hidden Histories program.

In order to better serve our donors, please include "Giving Tuesday" in the Purpose field so we can properly thank you for supporting us: bit.ly/CLApaypal

Exciting news - Oklahoma State University Professor Richard Boles's new book, Dividing the Faith, is launching this Dece...
11/30/2020
Dividing the Faith

Exciting news - Oklahoma State University Professor Richard Boles's new book, Dividing the Faith, is launching this December via NYU Press. Prof. Boles utilized many of our archival collections here at the CLA.

"Dividing" uncovers the often overlooked participation of African Americans and Native Americans in early Protestant churches.

We can't wait to add this one to our library collections (and our book club!)

Uncovers the often overlooked participation of African Americans and Native Americans in early Protestant churchesPhillis Wheatley was stolen from her family...

#OnThisDay in 1897, the Congregational House at 14 Beacon Street, Boston was completed and the corner stone laid. The ca...
11/29/2020

#OnThisDay in 1897, the Congregational House at 14 Beacon Street, Boston was completed and the corner stone laid.

The caption on the back of the photograph reads: "Laying of Corner Stone of New Congregational House Beacon Street by Gov. Wollcott [sic], Nov. 29, 1897."

#OTD

Happy Thanksgiving from the CLA. We *definitely* aren't sure about the accuracy of this depiction of the Plymouth coloni...
11/26/2020

Happy Thanksgiving from the CLA. We *definitely* aren't sure about the accuracy of this depiction of the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag feasting together in 1621. But the quote below the image is from a firsthand account by Edward Winslow. (Have you considered adding venison to your turducken?)

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

Wishing everyone a safe and plentiful day!

Congregationalists have a long tradition of giving thanks, and our librarian Sara proves the CLA is no exception, in her...
11/25/2020

Congregationalists have a long tradition of giving thanks, and our librarian Sara proves the CLA is no exception, in her latest blog expressing gratitude for past librarians, whose work continues to assist our patrons. And the rest of us weigh in, too!

http://congregationallibrary.org/blog/202011/day-thanksgiving

11/24/2020
The First Thanksgiving: A conversation with Dr. Francis Bremer

We are *delighted* to present a discussion about the "First Thanksgiving" between historian Dr. Francis Bremer and our Executive Director Dr. Stephen Butler Murray.

In the interview, Dr. Bremer dispels some common myths about the origins of the holiday and dives deep into what we do know about the earliest celebrations.

#Thanksgiving #FirstThanksgiving #Pilgrims #Puritans #HistoryOfThanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, why not take advantage of our free learning guide, "Plymouth’s Pilgrims: Their Church, Their World, a...
11/24/2020
Introduction | Congregational Library & Archives

This Thanksgiving, why not take advantage of our free learning guide, "Plymouth’s Pilgrims: Their Church, Their World, and Ours"?

Produced for the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing, the guide contains overviews for both adult and youth readers and a list of resources including primary documents. The guide is ideal for both learning and teaching about the Pilgrim story.

Plymouth’s Pilgrims: Their Church, Their World, and Ours Our four-part historical introduction and discussion guide, “Plymouth’s Pilgrims: Their Church, Their World, and Ours” is now available, free of charge and right in time for your 2020 planning. Elegantly written by Library board member...

Our latest "New England's Hidden Histories" digitized collection from Maine Historical Society is now available for brow...
11/17/2020

Our latest "New England's Hidden Histories" digitized collection from Maine Historical Society is now available for browsing:

The collection includes three record books from the First Church in North Yarmouth, Maine (later known as the First Church in Yarmouth), dating from 1730-1849:
http://congregationallibrary.org/nehh/series1/NorthYarmouthMEFirst

We continue to update our digitized collections within "New England's Hidden Histories" courtesy of National Endowment f...
11/13/2020

We continue to update our digitized collections within "New England's Hidden Histories" courtesy of National Endowment for the Humanities. The latest batch comes from our valued partners at Maine Historical Society .

One example among many, the records of the Maine Missionary Society (1807-1869):
http://congregationallibrary.org/nehh/series3/MaineMissionarySoc

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

Congregational Library & Archives-- Thank you for serving us so well-- I'm proud on Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday) to support you!!!
please concact me. i found pilgeam things when i was 14...i want to show it....please.it misht be history....who can i talk too????
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.