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Congregational Library & Archives

Congregational Library & Archives Founded in 1853. A public research library and archives preserving the history of Congregationalism.

Operating as usual

12/06/2022
Old South Church Pew Plan

Would you pay for a reserved seat at church? CLA Archivist, Billy McCarthy, gives us a quick overview of an old pew plan from Old South Church in Boston, now housed in our collections, that shows exactly how much front row seats for a Congregationalist sermon cost a few hundred years ago.

12/05/2022
The Westminster Confession's Relevance Today

Why does the Westminster Confession still matter today, 375 years after its creation? In this short clip, Rev. Dr. Richard L. Floyd presents his perspective on the importance of engaging with Christian history.

Learn more about this key document in Congregational history by watching the full video of our recent "Westminster at 375" event, co-sponsored with Dr Williams's Library, on our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z-WqQROEjM

We're thrilled to welcome Dr. Tricia Peone as the new director of our New England's Hidden Histories program.Dr. Peone h...
12/01/2022

We're thrilled to welcome Dr. Tricia Peone as the new director of our New England's Hidden Histories program.

Dr. Peone holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of New Hampshire, and prior to joining the CLA, she was a research scholar at Historic New England for the Recovering New England’s Voices project.

Welcome, Tricia!

New England’s Hidden Histories — https://www.congregationallibrary.org/nehh/main — makes digital scans and full transcri...
11/29/2022

New England’s Hidden Histories — https://www.congregationallibrary.org/nehh/main — makes digital scans and full transcriptions of 17th and 18th century church records accessible for free.

A cadre of dedicated people, like Linda Gard, give generously of their time to transcribe these rich documents, and here’s why Linda believes this work is so important:

“My heart skips a beat or two when emails come with attached pages of an 18th century minister's diary, or account of an Ecclesiastical Council, or humble relation of faith. Through these yellowed pages, the very world I've shouldered all along my 40-plus years of UCC pastoral ministry as a wary and remote descendant has become full of light—recognition, insight, kinship.”

As fewer children learn cursive handwriting in school, transcriptions of colonial documents are even more critical to make texts accessible to students and scholars alike.

Your contribution to our History Matters More Than Ever campaign via this link helps make our work possible: https://buff.ly/3Vh9A23

Congregational history is, and has been, community history for over 400 years.Although the CLA is based in Boston, our c...
11/29/2022

Congregational history is, and has been, community history for over 400 years.

Although the CLA is based in Boston, our collections represent congregations across the continental United States and around the world.

When Derrick C. Jones began researching the history of the Gregory Congregational United Church of Christ in Wilmington, North Carolina, he turned to the CLA in search of answers:

“The Congregational Library is a most invaluable resource in more ways than one. In a recent project, the support provided from the library’s personnel allowed me to answer questions dating back to 1869. I was able to not only validate the history of Gregory Church, I was also able to connect family members to religious institutions outside of North Carolina.”

Through the generous support of donors, the CLA is able to work with researchers like Derrick to preserve and promote the history of congregations, communities, and Congregationalism.

If you share our belief that History Matters More Than Ever, to please contribute to our campaign here: https://buff.ly/3Vh9A23

11/29/2022
Rev. Dr. Nancy Taylor on the Role of the Past in the Present

Understanding the past is crucial to both the present and the future. Earlier this month, we dedicated our new conference room to Rev. T. Thomas Boates, Jr., someone whose work was consistently motivated by this line of thought.

In this short clip from the dedication ceremony, his former colleague and current CLA board member, Rev. Dr. Nancy Taylor, explains why Rev. Boates’ perspective is central to our work at the Congregational Library & Archives.

And if you share our belief that History Matters More Than Ever, please contribute to our campaign here: https://buff.ly/3Vh9A23

Kayleigh Whitman, a PhD candidate in the History Department at Vanderbilt University, visited the CLA to conduct researc...
11/29/2022

Kayleigh Whitman, a PhD candidate in the History Department at Vanderbilt University, visited the CLA to conduct research for her dissertation and shared this about her experience:

“My dissertation considers the role of religious ideas in African American women's activism, which, unfortunately, can be challenging to find in the archive. However, exploring the Congregational Education Society and the related Council on Social Action collections revealed an exciting history of collaboration between these groups and Black women during the interwar years. Without the support of the library and its staff, I would have never found these connections that have proven invaluable to the development of my dissertation."

As a member of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium — https://www.congregationallibrary.org/researchers/research-scholarships — we provide fellowships to emerging scholars like Kayleigh whose work is changing our understanding of the past.

If you share our belief that History Matters More Than Ever, please contribute to our campaign here: https://buff.ly/3Vh9A23

Tomorrow is , and we're excited to share stories of real people who the Congregational Library & Archives benefits—from ...
11/29/2022

Tomorrow is , and we're excited to share stories of real people who the Congregational Library & Archives benefits—from researchers, to ministers, students, and church members.

Follow along tomorrow to see how your donation to the CLA helps preserve and promote Congregational history.

On December 19, 1689, Cotton Mather delivered the sermon pictured here to mark a colonial Day of Thanksgiving. As the ti...
11/24/2022

On December 19, 1689, Cotton Mather delivered the sermon pictured here to mark a colonial Day of Thanksgiving. As the title page tells us, the sermon included “just reflections upon the Excellent Things done by the Great God, more Generally in Creation and Redemption, . . . but more Particularly in the remarkable Revolutions of Providence which are every where the matter of present Observation.”

As we celebrate our own national day of Thanksgiving this year, Mather’s sermon reminds us to observe and reflect on the blessings that are everywhere around each of us—from crisp autumn winds, to cherished friends and family.

From all of us at the Congregational Library & Archives, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy Thanksgiving.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, we are thankful for all the congregations, ministers, and church members who are active partic...
11/23/2022

On this Thanksgiving Eve, we are thankful for all the congregations, ministers, and church members who are active participants and partners in our work at the CLA.

Who are the people in your congregation who give of themselves to take care of the little things, week-after-week: from greeting visitors, to making the coffee, or even (one of our favorites) preserving the history of your church, its people, and its mission?

We'd love for you to leave a comment below thanking someone in your congregation for their good work in grateful appreciation of all they do!

Thanksgiving week is a good time to remember the Congregationalists who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1620, contributing...
11/22/2022

Thanksgiving week is a good time to remember the Congregationalists who crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1620, contributing to the early chapters in what is now a 400-year-old religious story. And the “Plymouth’s Pilgrims: Their Church, Their World, and Ours” curriculum on our website is a rich resource for learning more: https://www.congregationallibrary.org/PlymouthsPilgrims/Adult

Linda Smith Rhoads, a CLA board member, created these materials to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing in Plymouth, and as we count our blessings this week, we are incredibly thankful for the many individuals, like Linda, who give of their time and expertise to support the CLA and our work.

At our Open House on November 4, 2022, we were pleased to dedicate our newly-renovated conference room to the Rev. T. Th...
11/21/2022
Boates Conference Room Dedication

At our Open House on November 4, 2022, we were pleased to dedicate our newly-renovated conference room to the Rev. T. Thomas Boates, Jr., an avid patron and influential leader of the Congregational Library & Archives.

In this short video, Richard Elliott, CLA Board Chair, and Rev. Dr. Nancy Taylor, CLA Board Member and former colleague of Rev. Boates, speak about his passionate support of the Congregational Library & Archives and his lifetime of service to family, church, and community.

In this week of Thanksgiving, we are particularly grateful for the CLA's donors and supporters, like Rev. Thomas Boates, who make it possible for us to continue preserving and promoting the Congregational story.

At our Open House on November 4, 2022, we were pleased to dedicate our newly-renovated conference room to the Rev. T. Thomas Boates, Jr., an avid patron and ...

The oldest Thanksgiving sermon in the CLA’s collection was delivered before the House of Commons in London on April 9, 1...
11/17/2022

The oldest Thanksgiving sermon in the CLA’s collection was delivered before the House of Commons in London on April 9, 1644 by Obadiah Sedgwick.

He opens his sermon with a reference to Psalm 3:8, “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: Thy blessing is upon thy people, Selah,” and urges his audience to consider “the severall and strange Works of Divine Providence” as “a fit Monument of Thanksgiving for your many and strangely-received mercies.”

You can find the sermon in the CLA’s collection here: https://buff.ly/3tzUNDj

In December 1865, Rev. George Leon Walker delivered a thanksgiving sermon to the State Street Church in Portland, Maine ...
11/11/2022

In December 1865, Rev. George Leon Walker delivered a thanksgiving sermon to the State Street Church in Portland, Maine that reflected on the challenge of giving thanks during the US Civil War.

He poignantly wrote: "We recounted our blessings; but the daily mail brought us daily tidings of conflict and death. . . . We rendered acknowledgment for public and private benefits; but thousands of parents were straining aching eyes out after loved ones marching with Sherman, fighting with Grant . . . We tried to be cheerful; but graves were becoming thick; and hospitals were stretching far."

On this Veterans Day, we give thanks for those who have sacrificed for, in Rev. Walker's words, "peace in our land, comfort in our households," and for the many family members who've spent holidays past and present "conscious of the absent."

11/10/2022
Westminster Confession in 2 Minutes

Could you summarize the Westminster Confession in two minutes? In this clip from our recent Westminster Confession at 375 event, Dr. Chad Dixhoorn walks us through the entire Confession, topic by topic, in just 2 minutes and 23 seconds!

You can watch the full video from this event now on our YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/6Z-WqQROEjM

CLA board member, Dr. Francis J. Bremer, recently reflected on his "Encyclopedia of Puritans and Puritanism" in a lectur...
11/09/2022
Puritanism: Webinar 1 'Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia'.

CLA board member, Dr. Francis J. Bremer, recently reflected on his "Encyclopedia of Puritans and Puritanism" in a lecture delivered to the French Society for English and American Studies, 17th and 18th centuries.

Watch the full video to learn how his thinking has changed since this volume was first published in 2006.

Puritanism: Webinar 1, 'Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia'. A talk by by Francis J. Bremer, Emeritus Professor of H...

At our Open House last Friday, we were thrilled to acquire a signed first edition copy of "Jesus Christ at the Crossroad...
11/08/2022

At our Open House last Friday, we were thrilled to acquire a signed first edition copy of "Jesus Christ at the Crossroads" by A.Z. Conrad, who was pastor of Park Street Church from 1905 to 1937.

Although Conrad describes himself as "a Progressive Evangelical" in the preface, the book itself contains his arguments against modernism/liberal theology . . . a reminder of the enduring complexity of both theology and human nature across the centuries.

We are thankful to CLA board member, Dr. Richard Boles, for locating and donating this item to our collection!

11/07/2022
Ready to begin a church records archival project, but not sure where to start? CLA archivist, Zachary Bodnar, has some great advice.

You can watch the entire "Taking the First Step in Archiving Your Church's Records," video on our YouTube channel at
https://youtu.be/60RJb0LeLtc

Ready to begin a church records archival project, but not sure where to start? CLA archivist, Zachary Bodnar, has some great advice.

You can watch the entire "Taking the First Step in Archiving Your Church's Records," video on our YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/60RJb0LeLtc

Thanks to everyone who came to our Open House last Friday evening. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and visit with...
11/07/2022

Thanks to everyone who came to our Open House last Friday evening. It was wonderful to see familiar faces and visit with new friends. We hope to see you all back at 14 Beacon again soon!

11/03/2022

Thanks to a group of generous donors, the CLA has acquired a copy of the "Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 1643-1653," edited by Chad Van Dixhoorn, one of the speakers from our Westminster Confession at 375 event last month.

This 5 volume set will provide invaluable reference material for researchers working on projects related to the Westminster Assembly and its impact on the history of Congregationalism, and we are grateful for the supporters who made this acquisition possible.

11/03/2022
Would archiving your church's records be worth the work?

Listen to CLA Archivist, Billy McCarthy, explain why his answer is absolutely "yes," and then watch the entire "Taking the First Step in Archiving Your Church's Records," virtual workshop on our YouTube channel at
https://youtu.be/60RJb0LeLtc

Would archiving your church's records be worth the work?

Listen to CLA Archivist, Billy McCarthy, explain why his answer is absolutely "yes," and then watch the entire "Taking the First Step in Archiving Your Church's Records," virtual workshop on our YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/60RJb0LeLtc

As November begins, thoughts often turn to the modern celebration of Thanksgiving. But sermons throughout Congregational...
11/01/2022

As November begins, thoughts often turn to the modern celebration of Thanksgiving. But sermons throughout Congregationalism's history remind us that we have reasons to give thanks all year.

For example, in his sermon celebrating a Day of General Thanksgiving in Massachusetts on August 24, 1749, Thomas Prince spoke about the blessing of "the extraordinary reviving rains, after the most distressing drought which have been known among us in the memory of any living."

You can find an original copy of this sermon in the CLA's collection here: https://buff.ly/3WyR2LR.

This fall, we're excited to have Karen Clausen-Brown interning with us at the CLA. She is a student at Simmons SLIS and ...
11/01/2022

This fall, we're excited to have Karen Clausen-Brown interning with us at the CLA. She is a student at Simmons SLIS and will be primarily working with records donated by Hillsborough Church.

After she graduates, Karen plans to become an archivist or special collections librarian, and she says that she's "thrilled for the opportunity to intern at the CLA and experience the kind of work that archivists do."

Welcome, Karen!

10/28/2022
Dr. Lori Rogers-Stokes on the Value of Church Records

What makes church records uniquely valuable?

In this clip from her recent book talk, Dr. Lori Rogers-Stokes explains how these documents help us see 17th century Congregationalists in a positive light as "spiritual people in relationship with other people," a distinct contrast to the typically more negative portrayals captured in civil records.

Learn more by watching her full talk on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/uYR2hU7xt8Q

Q: What's the CLA's largest archival collection?A: At 70 cubic feet, the largest is the records of the General Council—l...
10/26/2022

Q: What's the CLA's largest archival collection?

A: At 70 cubic feet, the largest is the records of the General Council—leaders of the Congregational Christian Church from 1931 to 1957, eventually replaced by the United Church of Christ General Synod. The collection includes correspondence, meetings, minutes, reports, and photographs from the Council and its members.

Q: What is the oldest archival item housed at the CLA?A: Church records from West Parish of Barnstable, United Church of...
10/19/2022

Q: What is the oldest archival item housed at the CLA?

A: Church records from West Parish of Barnstable, United Church of Christ in Barnstable, Massachusetts that date all the way back to 1639.

10/17/2022

A stack of new book arrivals is always a good way to start the week!

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02108

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Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 5pm
Friday 9am - 5pm

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(617) 523-0470

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Comments

Congregational Library & Archives-- Thank you for serving us so well-- I'm proud on Giving Tuesday () 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.
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