Beacon Street Diary

November 26, 2014

As the holiday season begins, many of you will be getting ready for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. There's a new movement that has been taking off in recent years. It's called Giving Tuesday, and it's a global day of contributions to nonprofit organizations.

Scattered across New England, in church closets, bank vaults, or town clerk offices lies a richly detailed view of the prevailing cultural currents in late seventeenth and early eighteenth century America. Help rescue these historic manuscripts often exposed to the elements and in danger of deterioration, beyond the reach of the average scholar. Join the Congregational Library and Archives' search and rescue mission to find and preserve these records and make them available to the public.

As part of the nation-wide #GivingTuesday campaign, the Congregational Library and Archives is asking those with a passion for history to contribute to the New England's Hidden Histories program. Your donation helps us find, digitize, and make freely available rare records of America's past. Join us on Twitter and Facebook as we spread the word about #GivingTuesday, the Hidden Histories program, and the importance of saving the primary documents of America's past.

To learn more and make a donation, visit our Giving Tuesday page.

November 24, 2014

The Congregational Library & Archives will be closed this coming Thursday and Friday, November 27-28, in observance of Thanksgiving.

All of our online resources will be available as usual. If you have a question you'd like to ask the staff, send an us email or leave a voicemail, and we'll get back to you when we return on Monday.

We wish all of you a safe and happy holiday.

November 17, 2014

New Book Explores the History of Boston's New North Church

The Congregational Library and Archives would like to express our thanks to publisher and author Charles Chauncey Wells for donating a copy of his latest work New North Church : from birth to death in early Boston. The library houses an extensive collection of church histories and is pleased to add this latest volume on such an important and historic church to our shelves.

Exploring the evolution of social and religious thought in colonial Boston through the story of the New North Church, Mr. Wells and his coauthor Steven Fanning deftly reveal the rich, complicated, and at times tumultuous history of Boston. Surveying the period between 1713 and 1864, the book follows the New North Church as it evolves from its founding by Puritans, to its transformation into Congregationalism, and its further progression to Unitarianism.

As they relate the stories behind these changes, the authors introduce the many prominent members of the New North Church, detail the construction of new church buildings, and even recall an infamous story of murder and intrigue. The Executive Director of the Congregational Library and Archives, Dr. Peggy Bendroth, also makes a contribution, offering an analysis of the church's transition from Puritanism to Congregationalism.

With transcriptions of marriage, baptism, membership, and death records, along with facsimiles of important documents, New North Church : from birth to death in early Boston offers a wealth of relevant information for genealogical researchers and history enthusiasts alike. The library's copy is available for members to check-out, along with copies of Charles Chauncey Wells's previous books: Preachers, patriots & plain folks : Boston's burying ground guide to King's Chapel, Granary, Central and Boston's Copp's Hill Burying Ground guide.

November 14, 2014

There are still a few seats left for Dr. Bendroth's popular seminar on the history of the Congregational Christian tradition. Sign up today.

What is Congregationalism and who are Congregationalists? To find these answers we look back into the history of this influential spiritual tradition whose roots so many Americans share. This one-day seminar will provide an overview of the Congregational Christian tradition, from its beginning to the present-day.

In an informal setting, we will cover three and a half centuries, from Congregationalism's English Puritan roots to the denominational mergers and divisions which created the national organizations as they exist today.

Executive Director and historian Peggy Bendroth will lead an in-depth exploration and help participants discover the origins of their own beliefs and gain a greater understanding of their shared foundation.

There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion. Lunch is provided.


Thursday, November 20th
10:00 am - 2:30 pm

Members — $20
Non-members — $35

Register through EventBrite.

November 10, 2014

There is still time to sign up for this week's free lunchtime event.

Join us for an hour of poetry and conversation with theologian, poet, and mysitic Charles H. Harper.

Chuck Harper began writing poetry soon after his graduation from Yale Divinity School and it quickly became a passion. His poetry is seen regularly in journals, including Mobius, the Aurorean, Avocet, The Lyric, and The Deronda Review. He is the author of four poetry books: Sorting Things Out (2008), Making A Life (2010), Gratitude (2012), and Fragments (2014). A resident of Plymouth, MA, he is a member of the Tidepool Poets, a frequent participant in POETRY: The Art of Words, and leads poetry appreciation workshops at the Plymouth Public Library. To learn more about Chuck and read examples of his work, visit his website.

Having served the Boston area, as an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Chuck was the founding Executive Director of the Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries. The CMM is an interfaith collaboration of urban and suburban congregations working to address critical social justice issues.

Chuck serves on the Congregational Library and Archives Advisory Circle.


Thursday, November 13th
noon - 1:00 pm

Register through SurveyMonkey.

November 7, 2014

The Congregational Library & Archives will be closed this coming Tuesday, November 11th, in observance of Veterans' Day.

All of our online resources will be available as usual. If you have a question you'd like to ask the staff, send an us email or leave a voicemail, and we'll get back to you when we return on Wednesday.


November 6, 2014

Peggy is on the road again, this time close to home. She will be speaking at Eastern Nazarene College later this month as part of the their Boston Semester program.

Fundamentalists in the City: Conflict and Division in Boston's Churches, 1885-1950

Dr. Margaret Bendroth, Executive Director at the Congregational Library and Archives, will give a lecture entitled "Fundamentalists in the City: Conflict and Division in Boston's Churches, 1885-1950" on Wednesday, November 19 at 7:00pm in Munro Parlor.

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This lecture is based on Dr. Bendroth's acclaimed 2005 book of the same title:

Fundamentalists in the City is a story of religious controversy and division, set within turn of the century and early twentieth-century Boston. It offers a new perspective on the rise of fundamentalism, emphasizing the role of local events, both sacred and secular, in deepening the divide between liberal and conservative Protestants. The first part of the narrative, beginning with the arrest of three clergymen for preaching on the Boston Common in 1885, shows the importance of anti-Catholicism as a catalyst for change. The second part of the book deals with separation, told through the events of three city-wide revivals, each demonstrating a stage of conservative Protestant detachment from their urban origins.

If you're able to attend, it's certain to be an entertaining evening.


Wednesday, November 19th
7:00 pm

Munro Hall Parlor at Eastern Nazarene College
23 East Elm Ave.
Quincy, MA 02170

October 20, 2014

Our reading room will be closed to researchers this Wednesday, October 22nd, from 9-11am for a video shoot.

Staff will be in the office to answer questions by phone and email, and all of our online resources will still be available as usual. If you do wish to visit in person during those hours, please contact us in advance so that we may make accommodations for you elsewhere in the library.

October 16, 2014

If you enjoyed last year's Mather Redux symposium (or wished you could have attended), we have good news for you. One of the featured presenters from that event will be speaking at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy next Friday evening as part of their Boston Semester program.

Cotton Mather: The First American Evangelical

Dr. Rick Kennedy, Professor of History at Point Loma Nazarene University, will give a lecture entitled "Cotton Mather: The First American Evangelical" on Friday, October 24 at 7:00pm in Munro Parlor.

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This lecture shares a title with Kennedy's forthcoming biography of Mather (Eerdmans, 2015):

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was America's most famous pastor and scholar at the beginning of the eighteenth century. People today generally associate him with the infamous Salem witch trials, but that picture has mostly come down to us from one unreliable, antagonistic source.

This biography by Rick Kennedy, based largely on new research by an international team of scholars, corrects misconceptions of Cotton Mather and focuses on the way he tried to promote, socially and intellectually, a biblical lifestyle. As older Puritan hopes in New England were giving way to a broader and shallower Protestantism, Mather led a populist, Bible-oriented movement that embraced the new century — the beginning of a dynamic evangelical tradition that eventually became a major force in American culture.

Prof. Kennedy is a passionate speaker, and his talk is sure to be a good time.

October 14, 2014

There is still time to register for tomorrow's free lunctime discussion.

Why the Stories of the Past are More Important Than Ever: A Conversation with Peggy Bendroth

At the Congregational Library and Archives we believe that "history matters" — but what does that really mean in practice? What does it mean to have a sense of history?

Join Peggy Bendroth, the library's Executive Director and author of The Spiritual Practice of Remembering, in a conversation about the past and its importance for people today. Making meaningful connections with people, ideas, and events of long ago can be rewarding but also deeply confusing. Our ancestors are sometimes so familiar and at other times utterly and completely different from us. We want to celebrate their achievements, but we also know where they have come up short. In this noontime presentation and discussion we will think together about ways we can relate to the past, focusing especially on the Congregational tradition and its spiritual heritage.


Wednesday, October 15th
noon - 1pm

Register through SurveyMonkey.