People of Color Preliminary Finding Aid

compiled by Richard J. Boles

This finding aid is designed to help scholars identify sources in the collections of the Congregational Library that relate to African Americans, Native Americans, and Afro-Indians. This guide is not comprehensive but is a starting point for research into these people groups. The material covered in this guide is primarily focused on 18th century and early 19th century material, but earlier and later collections also contain information about people of color. Blacks and Indians participated in and affiliated with most Congregational churches in southern New England during the 18th century. African Americans, Native Americans, and Afro-Indians were baptized, married, and admitted to membership at many Congregational churches. Various terms were commonly used to identify these groups of people within church records, including negro, mulatto, Indian, black, colored, people of colour, col'd, etc. These racial notations were not uniformly used in all church records, but they can often be found within baptismal, marriage, membership, deaths, discipline, and meeting minute records. These sorts of racial notations can also be found in some collections of personal papers.

 

Church Records (manuscript and microfilm formats)

Abington, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church records, 1724-1749. RG 4969. 1 Volume.
A few African Americans were identified in the church records between 1741 and 1748.

Bedford, Massachusetts. First Church of Christ records, [1730]-1998. RG 4390. 1 linear foot, 1 microfilm reel.
One African American ("a man of colour") was admitted to membership in 1807.

Boston, Massachusetts. Bowdoin Street Church records, 1825-1865. RG 0806. 2 linear feet (2 boxes).
Two African Americans became members of this church between 1828 and 1829. Four African Americans were interviewed by church leaders between 1828 and 1832, and summaries of these meetings remain in the church records.

Boston, Massachusetts. Green Street Church records, 1822-1844. RG 1066. 1 volume.
Two African Americans were identified in the membership lists between 1825 and 1827.

Boston, Massachusetts. Old South Church records, 1669-1997. 15 microfilm reels.
Numerous African Americans were baptized at this church and some were admitted to membership, particularly between 1730 and 1860. African Americans were also identified in marriage and death records and in some records of meeting minutes.

Brewster, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church records, 1700-1977. RG 1338. 1 microfilm reel.
Several African Americans were identified in these records between 1742 and 1750. There is also a discussion about an church member (not ordained) who was disciplined by the church for preaching to Indians.

Brockton, Massachusetts. Christ Congregational Church records, 1738-1980. RG 0037. 8 linear feet.
African Americans (people identified as negro and mulatto) were identified in the baptismal, membership, and marriages lists between 1742 and 1781.

East Barnstable, Massachusetts. East Parish Congregational Church and Society records, 1717-1930. RG 1327. 1 microfilm reel.
African Americans and Indians were identified in the church records between 1731 and 1769.

Falmouth, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church records, 1731-1790. RG 4930. 1 microfilm reel.
At least five African Americans were identified in the baptismal and membership records from 1732 to 1758. One African American couple was identified in the marriage records of 1787.

Franklin, Massachusetts. Second Church, Wrentham records, 1737-1887. RG 4842. 1 microfilm reel; Originals: 2 volumes, 1 folder.
Three African Americans were identified in the baptismal records between 1741 and 1744.

Grafton, Massachusetts. Evangelical Congregational Church records 1731-1828. RG 4921. 1 microfilm reel.
Several African Americans and Indians were identified in the baptismal and membership records between 1732 and 1747.

Hopkinton, New Hampshire. First Congregational Church clerk records, 1757-1904. RG 4918. 1 microfilm reel.
A few African Americans were identified on the membership, covenant, and baptismal lists between 1767 and 1790.

Marlborough, Massachusetts. First Church records, 1704-1834. RG 1358. 1 microfilm reel.
One Indian was identified in the baptismal records from 1730. Although the records do not contain other racial notations, other evidence suggests that a couple African Americans were baptized between 1763 and 1773.

Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church  records, 1736-1886. RG 4840. 1 microfilm reel.
Some African Americans were identified in the records from 1742 to 1785.

Medway, Massachusetts. West Medway Community Church, 1750-1901. RG 4685. 2 boxes.
At least three African Americans and one Indian were identified in the church records between 1753 and 1785.

Merrimac, Massachusetts. Pilgrim Congregational Church. Records, 1726-1894 (gaps). RG 0123. 1 box.
Seven African Americans (people identified as "negro") and one Indian were identified in the baptismal records between 1740 and 1772.

Middleboro, Massachusetts. First Church of Middleboro, 1702-1908. RG 4970. 2 cartons and 1 oversize box.
These records contain the "Relation" of Cuffy Wright, who was a slave owned by the Rev. Sylvanus Conant. This collection contains two lists of church members, which identify five African American members and one Indian member. Also see the microfilm church records for the First Church and the North Church of Middleboro that include more references of African Americans.

Middleboro, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church records, 1707-1821. RG 4919. 1 microfilm reel.
African Americans were identified in the baptismal and membership lists between 1735 and 1754 and between 1773 and 1796 and on the marriages lists from at least 1757 to 1758.

Newton, Massachusetts. Central Congregational Church. Records, 1868-2003. RG 4680. 10 linear feet.
One African American (“black woman”) was identified in the 1797 membership records and three African Americans were identified in the baptismal records 1797 to 1798.

North Middleboro, Massachusetts. Congregational Church records, 1747-1927. RG 1381. 1 microfilm reel.
Four African Americans were identified on the baptismal lists between 1760 and 1766.

Wendell, Massachusetts. Congregational Church. Records, 1783-1953. RG 4890. 4 boxes.
One African American was identified on the 1782 baptismal list.

 

Personal Papers and Other Manuscript Records

Hawley, Gideon (1727-1807). Papers, 1753-1806. 4 vol, 1 microfilm reel (or 14 binders of transcriptions).
Gideon Hawley was a missionary and minister among Indians in upstate New York and on Cape Cod (especially Mashpee). His journal and letters date from 1754 to ca. 1806. The material, which is available in microfilm and transcribed formats, include many references to Indians, Afro-Indians, and African Americans.

 

Published Materials and Books

Aghahowa, Brenda Eatman. Praising in Black and White: Unity and Diversity in Christian Worship. Cleveland, OH: United Church Press, 1996.

American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Shall we give Bibles to three millions of American slaves? New York, NY: American and Foreign Anti-slavery Society, 1847.

American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and Improving the Condition of the African Race. An address to the free people of colour and descendants of the African race, in the United States. Philadelphia, PA: Printed for the Convention, by Hall & Atkinson, 1819.

American Missionary Association. Annual Reports, 1847-1936. Bound reports, 15 volumes.

Butler, Jon. New World Faiths: Religion in colonial America. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Culver, Dwight W. Negro Segregation in the Methodist Church. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1953.

Cummins, George D. The African a trust from God to the American : a sermon delivered on the day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer, in St. Peter's Church, Baltimore, January 4, 1861. Baltimore, MD: Printed by J.D. Toy, 1861.

Eddy, Ansel Doane. 'Black Jacob,' a monument of grace.: The life of Jacob Hodges, an African negro, who died in Canandaigua, N. Y., February 1842. Philadelphia, PA: American Sunday-school Union, 1842.

Hamilton, Charles V. The Black Preacher in America. New York, NY: William Morrow, 1972.

Haynes, Leonard L. The Negro Community Within American Protestantism, 1619-1844. Boston, MA: Christopher Pub. House, ca. 1953.

Hopkins, Samuel. A dialogue concerning the slavery of the Africans : shewing it to be the duty and interest of the American states to emancipate all their African slaves : with an address to the owners of such slaves : dedicated to the Honourable the Continental Congress : to which is prefixed, the institution of the society, in New-York, for promoting the manumission of slaves, and protecting such of them as have been, or may be, liberated. New York, NY: Re-printed for Robert Hodge, 1785.

Hopkins, Samuel. Timely Articles on Slavery. Boston, MA: Congregational Board of Publication, 1854.

Logan, Samuel Crothers. Correspondence between the Rev. S.C. Logan, Pittsburgh, Pa., and the Rev. Dr. J. Leighton Wilson, Columbia, S.C. Columbia, SC: Printed at the Office of the Southern Presbyterian, 1868.

Morrison-Reed, Mark D. Black Pioneers in a White Denomination. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, c1984.

Murray, Andrew E. Presbyterians and the Negro: A History. Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian Historical Society, 1966.

Newman, Richard. "Lemuel Haynes on baptism: an unpublished manuscript from the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture". Bulletin of Research in the Humanities, v. 87, no. 4 (1986-1987). pp. 509-514.

Piersen, William Dillon. Black Yankees: The Development of an Afro-American Subculture in Eighteenth-century New England. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988.

Stanley, Alfred Knighton. The Children is Crying: Congregationalism Among Black People. New York, NY: Pilgrim Press, 1979.

Stanley, J. Taylor. A History of Black Congregational Christian Churches of the South. New York, NY: Published by United Church Press for the American Missionary Association, ca. 1978.

Williams, Ethel L. Biographical Directory of Negro Ministers. New York, NY: Scarecrow Press, 1965.

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