Beacon Street Diary

May 29, 2009

Beginning May 28, and every other Thursday until September

Explore our historic library with Claudette Newhall as she tells the story of the library and provides visitors with an in-depth tour of the main Reading Room, the Pratt Room, as well as the 'stacks'. During the tour, you will also learn about the building's history, our collections, and the services the Library provides.

Begins at 1:30 p.m. No charge. Reservations requested. 617-523-0470 x 1.


May 27, 2009

I've been teaching a class to help churches deal with keeping and organizing their church records for several years now, but foolishly never came up with templates for a records management policy or a retention schedule. However, thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to find some very lovely documents from the Church of Christ and the United Methodists. Both gentleman I spoke to at the respective agencies were very happy to share their work with me. This is good because it really is all the same thing at a certain level and I hate having to reinvent the wheel. So, again: thank you!

Visit our Records Management Page to see our original Records Management pamphlet and the spiffy new templates.

May 26, 2009

News Item: The follow up lunch for those who've taken the records management class is canceled for this Friday, 5/29 at the Salem Tabernacle Church.

Related ponderings on the cancellation: I started offering this event last year and had a lovely response for the first lunch, and since then folks just aren't signing up. There are a number of possibilities that I can think of for why this is:

  • offered at the wrong time of the week and/or folks too busy
  • financial
  • unclear as to who should attend or why
  • potential participants feel like they need to have made a specific amount of progress on their archive projects
  • publicity not getting to target audience

When it's written out like that, it does seem like a minor miracle that I had anyone attend the first. If you would like to comment on this, please email me directly.

--Jessica Steytler

May 21, 2009

I'm sure you're all very curious to know how the poll is going since we posted that almost a week ago. It turns out that 60% use Facebook, 40% use RSS, and only 20% go directly.

If you haven't filled out the poll yet, please do so -- we'll check it a few more times in the next week and if the results are radically different later, we'll let you know.

May 20, 2009

From the First Annual Report of the Directors of the Congregational Library Association, May 30, 1854:

On Wednesday, at 2 o'clock, P.M., the members of the Association, with their ladies, and other invited guests, sat down to a collation in Fanueuil Hall, which the Directors had prepared in compliance with a provision in the By-laws. Attendance was nearly eight hundred. The blessing was invoked by Rev. William Patton and at the end of the collation the assembly sang "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," under the direction of Lowell Mason, Esq. The speaking then commenced. Association President, Rev. William T. Dwight gave a short introductory address and was followed by short addresses given by Rev. Calvin E. Stowe, Hon. Charles T. Russell, Rev. E. N. Kirk, Hon. J. V. C. Smith, Rev. Edward Beecher, Rev. R. S. Storrs, Rev. Truman M. Post, Alpheus Hardy, Esq., Lowell Mason, Esq., Rev. Heman Humphrey, Governor Washburn, Julius A. Palmer, Esq., Rev. R. Anderson, Rev. A. L. Stone.

At precisely five o'clock, P.M., the President announced that the hour for closing these festivities had arrived. The venerable Rev. Lyman Beecher offered a closing prayer. This was the First Collation of the Congregational Library Association.

May 15, 2009

If our lovely viewing audience would be so kind as to follow this link to a survey that will tell us how you get to these posts, as we suspect it's not just in the traditional via Typepad's URL. We will be using the results at our annual meeting in a few weeks.

Thanks! Click here to take survey.

May 11, 2009

Eliot Bible title page

The first Bible printed in America is a translation of the Old and New Testaments into the Algonquin language by John Eliot (1604-1690), “Apostle to the Indians". Rev. Eliot worked on his translation for over 10 years before the New Testament portion was issued from the press of Samuel Green, Cambridge, Mass. in 1661. This translation was of a language without a written tradition. The printing of the Old Testament took three years, and was finished in 1663. To make a complete Bible, it was bound up with the New Testament and the Psalms of David (the latter in verse form, translated from the English of the New England psalm book). A thousand copies were printed. Because many copies were destroyed in the wars of the 1670s, a new edition of the New Testament was printed in 1680 and a new Old Testament in 1685. Two thousand copies of the latter were printed. Eliot published his Indian Grammar in 1666.

John Eliot was pastor in Roxbury for 58 Years. Eliot was one of a few ministers who served as a missionary to American Indians in New England, and he organized several "praying towns" -- communities of converted Indians—in Massachusetts including one in Natick. Eliot was one of the few early settlers to believe that Indians had souls. He preached his first sermon in the Algonguin language in 1646 at Nonantum, now Newton.

The Eliot Bible appeared some 120 years before the first complete English edition of the Bible was published in what is now the United States.

Eliot is also credited with being one of the editors of the Bay Psalm Book and a supporter of the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel in New England (the first Protestant Missionary Society) -- created to convert the New England Indians.

In 1961, the ACA sent the Eliot Bible to England. The Bible was defective, lacking pages at the beginning and end. A facsimile title page, the first two pages of Genesis and two pages in between the testaments were printed and the book bound in antique leather.

May 6, 2009

Thanks to the fantastic work of this semester's interns, plus my own diligence, our web site and online catalog has a number of newly organized collections. The following descriptions are pulled from the finding aids.

Hopkinton, New Hampshire - First Church. Records, 1757-1909. The archive assisted the Hopkinton church get these records microfilmed over the past many months; this collection is in microfilm form. The church maintains the original ledgers. Within the four volumes, there are records for membership (including admission/dismission), baptisms, deaths, marriages, meetings; the final volume includes the lists of ministers and deacons.

Charles Addison Richardson. Correspondence, 1794, 1798, 1848-1872. This collection is part of the Small Collections, which don't normally have guides of their own, however this Congregationalist editor's papers are a collection of letters; the guide is an index of who the correspondence is from.

Wendell, Massachusetts. Congregational Church. Records, 1783-1953. Last fall's intern, Kim Kinder organized these papers. Even though the church was relatively small throughout its life, it contributed to foreign missions as well as domestic, assisting in the mission work in China. The church belonged to the Franklin Association of Congregational Churches and worked closely with the Massachusetts Home Missionary Society to call and fund its ministers.


Intern Colleen Mahoney's contributions:

Henry Boynton Papers, 1824-1866. The Rev.Boynton served in Vermont, New York New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Anti-Slavery Society, and gave sermons on their behalf.

This collection includes 100 hand-written sermons and documents composed by Boynton between 1824 and 1858. Sermon topics include: slavery, prejudice, temperance, and missionary work. This collection also includes Boynton’s ledger book of marriage records, which includes records of weddings he performed between 1832 and 1866.

This collection came from the estate of Miss Ada Y. Harris of Bridgewater, New York, a descendant of Dr. William Yeats of Butternuts (Morris), New York. It was purchased by the Congregational Library in October 2008.

General Conference of the German Evangelical Congregational Churches of the United States. Records, 1883-1971. The General Conference of the German Evangelical Congregational Churches of the United States of America was founded in Crete, Nebraska in 1883, with the goal of improving communication and collaboration among German churches across the American west. This collection includes the incorporation records, minutes, correspondence, and some publications of the General Conference.

Massachusetts Conference. Essex South; Essex North. Records and Minutes, 1827-1972. The library had Essex records for years, but they had been in several separate collections. When the library acquired new material in 2008, we were motivated to consolidate. Includes the following five sub-sections: Essex South Association; Essex South Branch Missionary Association; Essex South Conference of Churches; Essex South South County Branch, Woman's Board of Missions, Executive Committee, also known as Essex South District; Essex North Association.


Konstancja Sinczak's contribution:

Massachusetts Council of Churches. Records, 1887-Present. Kasia organized the photographs -- Photographs of the activities of MCC and MCC affiliated groups. New analog additions dating after 2006 are not expected in any great volume due to the favoring of digital technologies. A more in depth guide to the photographs has been appended to this guide. The main guide now includes an overview of photograph subjects, as well as a more in-depth list. Both are appended to the web page version of the guide (link above).

April 29, 2009

This was written by Simmons student, Colleen Mahoney. Today is her last day of her internship. Many thanks for all her hard work.

When people ask me what I’m going to school for, and I tell them I’m studying to be an archivist, I usually get blank stares back. A what? My stock response has become, “You know, like the girl in National Treasure,” which usually gets people far more excited. Sometimes I feel a bit misleading for comparing my future career with a character from an adventure movie. But spending this past semester as an intern at the Congregational Library has helped me realize that my explanation really isn’t that far from the truth.

My first project this semester was preparing a new collection the Library purchased so that it would be available for use. The Reverend Henry Boynton was a traveling Congregational minister who served churches in New York, Vermont, and Connecticut in the decades leading up to the Civil War. This collection included dozens of his handwritten sermons, each annotated with the dates and places where it was delivered. These sermons were by far the oldest documents I had ever handled at that point, and I was a bit awed reading through Boynton's sermons supporting abolition and temperance. Their subject matter serves as a reminder of our nation’s past, and the importance of preserving our history.

One of my other projects this semester involved going through the archive’s "Small Collections". Small Collections is the group of individual items that the CL has collected that don’t belong in a larger group -- individual letters, journals, sermons, and the like. In some cases, the archive has since acquired larger collections that individual items can be integrated with, or they would better serve our patrons by being located in another section. Going through each item and deciding where to relocate it to was in many ways like a treasure hunt. There was also an incredibly wide range of materials in this collection -- the autograph collection of a nineteenth century minister which included the signatures of such figures as Thomas Jefferson and Lyman Beecher, a letter from British Prime Minister David Lloyd George following World War I in which he encouraged greater cooperation between American and British ministers, and the financial records of a colonial Congregational minister who kept meticulous track of his expenditures.

There may not be any high speed chases or life-or-death crises at the Congregational Library, but the opportunity to help preserve this important aspect of American history has been an exciting opportunity.  I may be in the minority, but I would take a collection of sermons eloquently addressing real problems our nation faced over a treasure map any day.

April 27, 2009

Jonathan Mayhew

Jonathan Mayhew (October 8, 1720 – July 9, 1766) was a noted American clergyman and minister at Old West Church in Boston. Mayhew was born at Martha’s Vineyard, being a descendant of Thomas Mayhew (1592-1682), an early settler and the grantee (1641) of Martha's Vineyard. Jonathan’s father, Experience Mayhew (1673-1758), was active as a missionary among the Indians of Martha’s Vineyard and the vicinity. The Mayhews were also involved with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England.

Mayhew graduated from Harvard in 1744. So liberal were his theological views that when he was to be ordained minister of the West Church in Boston in 1747, only two ministers attended the first council called for the ordination, and it was necessary to summon a second council. Mayhew's preaching made his church practically the first Unitarian Congregational church in New England, though it was never officially Unitarian.

Rev. Mayhew was opposed to the Stamp Act and is credited by John Adams as the author of the phrase, "no taxation without representation." Another of his quotes is "Extremes are dangerous."

In 1952 his portrait was taken to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for identification of the artist. The evidence from the Annual meeting report of 1875 stated the portrait was a gift in 1875 from Robert Dunning, Esq. of Georgetown, DC. The result of the examination authenticated the artist.

Rev. Mayhew’s portrait was painted by John Greenwood (American Colonial Era Painter, 1727-1792) one of the first Colonial portrait painters born in America. John Greenwood was one of that city's most prominent portrait painters during the 1740s, one of the reasons being that he had little competition. Greenwood painted many prominent merchants and members of the clergy. He worked in Boston from about 1745 to 1752. The painting is dated at approximately 1750 and appears to be in its original frame.