Beacon Street Diary blog

Book recommendations

The streets of Boston are alive with visitors and locals alike, taking in these few fleeting weeks of summer. Down the street, we can see tourists buying slushes and taking photos on the Boston Common, while locals sprawl out on the grass with books. Our Assistant Librarian Sara Belmonte picked out some books you might enjoy reading on the Common, or under another shady tree in your area.

Those Good Gertudes: a Social History of Women Teachers in America

Geraldine Clifford turned the personal writings of women teachers into a larger historical statement about the role women have played as teachers in the United States. The book covers the colonial era and the 19th century, and brings to light the often-overlooked voices of women.

Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England

Puritans are often portrayed as stern and rigid, but Abram C. Van Engen smashes that misconception. He contends that Puritan theological thought and practice emphasized the importance of sympathy and compassion, not buckled hats and witch burnings.

A Path in the Mighty Waters: Shipboard Life and Atlantic Crossings to the New World

A different kind of beach read! The Atlantic Ocean serves as a backdrop for 17th century transatlantic voyages. James Oglethorpe's 1735 journey from London to Georgia is the main story, and Stephen R. Berry's book expands from there across the 18th century transatlantic world. Berry was a 2004 fellow of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium.

Daughters of the Samurai: a Journey from East to West and Back

Janice P. Namura's meticulously researched book tells the story of five young Japanese women sent to the U.S. by the Japanese government in the 1870s. After ten years, they return home and are faced with the task of reforming Japan's educational system. Much of the collection at the Congregational Library & Archives deals with American and Western European missionaries bringing their culture to other parts of the world, so it is particularly interesting to see the cultural exchange go the other way.

Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago

Those of you who attended our History Matters lecture this past March will recognize the name Heath W. Carter, the Valparaiso labor historian who explored the intersection of religion and labor in the 19th century. In his book Union Made, Carter reframes the rise of the Social Gospel to focus on the contributions of the labor movement of the 19th century. Anyone interested in the tension between revivalists and Social Gospel adherents will appreciate this book, as will readers who wish to view labor history through an unconventional lens.


Members of the Congregational Library & Archives can check these books out. Become a member today, and enjoy these books wherever you do your summer reading.