Using the library's website
How do I log into the website?
Research and borrowing
How do I log into the catalog?
Do you have the book or church records I'm looking for?
How can I borrow books from the Congregational Library?
What kinds of church records are available at the Congregational Library?
What kind of genealogical information is available?
What do you need to know in order to find my ancestor?
Who was the first...?
You don't need to log in to use most of our site. Our goal is to provide as much information as possible to the public, whether you're a long-time patron or finding us for the first time.
The only part that requires a username and password is our Members' Section. If you are already a member, email the webmistress to sign up for an account. If you would like to become a member, see our donation page for details.
You don't need to log in just to search the catalog. An account simply allows you to save search results for future reference. If you would like to have this option, please contact the webmistress to request an account.
The first step is to check our online catalog. Try searching by author, title, or town name to begin. If you don't get any results, try again using key words from the title. If you get too many, try to narrow it down by using the advanced search to search two or more categories at once.
If you don't find what you're looking for in the catalog, but it seems like something we might have, we encourage you call or email us for assistance. Some of our collection hasn't been added to the online catalog yet, and we will be happy to check our old card catalog. Even if we don't have the material in question here, we might be able to help you locate it somewhere else.
All you have to do is ask. Our complete circulating collection can be found in our online catalog. As long as a book was published within the last 35 years, we will lend it, either in person or by mail. For more detail, see our Library Policies page.
Because Congregational churches are not ruled by an overseeing body, each local church is responsible for the maintenance of their own records. It is likely, therefore, that old baptismal certificates, marriage records, and similar information are still located at the church itself. If a church closes, they may choose to send their records to our repository. We organize what we are given, but more often than not, because of the ravages of time, there are gaps in the collection. Records from extinct churches may also be found in a local historical society, public library, or town clerk's office.
Church records can sometimes provide information about baptisms, marriages, and deaths of Congregational laypeople, though these documents may be difficult to track down and are frequently incomplete. The library can, however, provide basic obituary information about Congregational clergy, that is, men or women who were ordained Congregationalists at the time of their death, and recorded in the denominational yearbook. Keep in mind that people can and did change denominations over a lifetime — not all of the people who served in Congregational churches ended up there!
We do not have burial records. Again, there is no master list of burial sites and, more often than not, churches do not keep the records of graveyards. Some churches will indicate when someone has left their congregation, either to move to another church or because they have died.
...African American ordained as a Congregational minister?
Lemuel Haynes — Hear more about his life and career in our Instant History podcast, or look for more information about him and his writings in our online catalog.
...woman ordained as a Congregational minister?
Antoinette Brown Blackwell — Hear more about her life and career in our Instant History podcast, or look for more information about her and her writings in our online catalog.