The Congregational Library and Archives are administered by the American Congregational Association, a non-profit organization founded May 25, 1853. The 1853 ACA charter stated that the organization was incorporated "for the purpose of establishing and perpetuating a library of religious history and literature of New England, and for the erection of a suitable building for the accommodation of the same, and for the use of charitable societies." It was felt that the latter should be done or the original Puritan literature would be lost.
In 1853 rooms were rented for the first small library. In 1873 two buildings were acquired at the corner of Beacon and Somerset streets, near the present location. The buildings were remodeled and dedicated on February 11, 1873. This building was sold when a larger, more adequate building became a necessity. The American Congregational Association discussed a new location as early as 1890 and a committee was appointed in 1896 to investigate building lots. The ACA desired to fulfill the purpose stated in their charter, to house their large library and objects documenting the Congregational movement, as well as house Congregational organizations and charities. The present Congregational House was completed in 1898 and was designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge.
A host of Congregational organizations have had their offices in the Congregational House. The original list of tenants included the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, American Missionary Association, Boston Society for the Moral and Religious Instruction of the Poor (now City Mission Society), Congregational Education Society, The Congregationalist, Massachusetts Home Missionary Society, National Council of Congregational Churches, New West Commission, Pilgrim Press Bookstore, Seaman's Friend Society, Sunday School and Publishing Society, Thomas Todd Printers and the Massachusetts Woman's Home Missionary Union. The Board of Pastoral Supply and the Massachusetts Conference of Congregational Christian Churches (which absorbed the Massachusetts Home Missionary Society) came at a later date.
After 1957 many Congregational churches joined the United Church of Christ and the Library was designated as the records repository for the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches, the central denominational board of the Congregational church. In addition to these records, numerous associations, organizations and movements from the Congregational tradition have given their records to Congregational Library archives.