3.5 linear feet
No access restrictions.
Gift, 1967. Lantern slides deposited at an unknown date.
Originally processed May 1992 by Sandra Sudak. Added to and rewritten December 1995 by archive staff.
Copyright: requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the archivist or librarian.
The records were received at an unknown date by the Congregational Library. Since the organization was located in Congregational House, 14 Beacon Street since it was built in 1898, the most probably explanation is that they were donated to the Congregational Library during an office move and in several different installments.
The Boston Society for the Moral and Religious Instruction for the Poor was organized October 9, 1816 in Boston, although it was not officially incorporated until February 21, 1820. The founding officers were a mixture of clergymen, active church members and business men and included: Rev. Joshua Huntington, president; William Thurston, vice president; Josiah Salisbury, treasurer; and Thomas Vose, secretary.
Huntington, pastor of the Old South Church from 1811 - 1819, was the son of the General Jedidiah Huntington, who served in the Revolutionary War. General Jedidiah Huntington was also appointed by George Washington to serve as Collector of Customs in New London, Connecticut, and was one of the founders of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (A.B.C.F.M.). In addition to his position at the Old South Church, Joshua Huntington was also secretary of the Foreign Mission Society of Boston, took a leading part in the services of the A.B.C.F.M. and was secretary for the Society for the Suppression of Intemperance. The Society for Educating Pious Youths for the Gospel Ministry was organized in Huntington's home.
William Thurston was a lawyer and a "man of considerable wealth." Originally a member of the Old South Church, he asked for a dismissal when Huntington came to the Old South Church, in order to help start a new congregation at Park Street. Thurston was also served as "trustee for the property on which the Park Street Church building was erected, and he prepared the deed which gave the church title to the property."
Henry Homes was the son of a Old South Church member, but was an active member in the proceedings to form the Park Street Church. Josiah Salisbury, an Old South deacon, was also active in a number of missionary organizations and was "connected with the Sewall family, and thus had considerable standing in town." Licensed to preach in Boston, he had studied in Edinburgh and spent some time in London, where he visited those involved in charitable work and became friends with John Newton. Upon his return to the United States Salisbury gave up the ministry and changed his membership from the Old South Church, where his father was a deacon and had a "heritage of church leadership which went back some five generations." He joined the Federal Street Church and later rejoined the Old South Church.
Thomas Vose was a member of the First Church in Dorchester, before moving to Baltimore and becoming a successful merchant. He had only been in Boston a year before joining the Boston Society for the Moral and Religious Instruction for the Poor.
The original Board of Directors were Samuel Armstrong, Charles Cleveland, Pliny Cutler, Henry Homes, John Hopkins, John Proctor, Samuel Train and Josiah Vinton, Jr. Samuel Armstrong was one of the 1845 incorporators of the Old South Church and was also an Old South deacon, printer, publisher and bookseller. Pliny Cutler was also an Old South deacon and one of the 1845 incorporators, as well as a merchant and manufacturer. John Proctor was a deacon at the Park Street Church and Josiah Vinton were members of the Old South Church. Please note that many of the wives and relatives of these men were active and founding members of the Corban Society and Graham Society; some of the men occasionally served as auditors for these societies.
The group was funded through life subscribers, who contributed $20, and annual subscribers, who contributed smaller amounts annually; individuals and churches also contributed funds. Some of the members were both life members and annual subscribers, i.e., Thomas Vose and Samuel Armstrong.
The organization was concerned with the basic right of children to have an education; individuals who could not afford to attend church services and the relationship of illiteracy to this matter; and the spiritual leadership of seamen. One of the first steps of the Society was to establish Sabbath Schools, the first being established October 1916. Children were gathered by Society members and workers and children were admitted as they came. Since there was no compulsory attendance at any school in Boston, each school had a relatively large enrollment, with the Sabbath Schools averaging 500 per school. The children were from poor families and a quarter of them were illiterate.
The Society was in part a response to the problems of the increased urbanization of Boston. The population of the city grew rapidly between 1820 - 1840, with an approximate 50 percent population increase each decade. Conditions in the West End were issues discussed at the government level and city agencies (such as the Overseers of the Poor) were established during this period. There was an increase in immigration, as laborers were recruited for building railroads and as mill laborers. The great Irish immigration brought a large population increase: by 1875, 60,000 Irish were living in Boston. Other issues for the poor of Boston were the Civil War, which contributed to the loss of family income earners and the Great Boston fire of November of 1872. In short, public institutions were not able to deal with the employment needs, illness, and housing needs of the new residents, nor the change in the city's homogeneity. In this context, the City Missionary Society (renamed May 3, 1841) attempted to deal with the physical and spiritual needs of the poor though home visitation by paid missionaries, tract distributors, Sabbath Schools and summer programs for youth.
The City Missionary Society has had seven different locations, with the majority of the history in Congregational House, 14 Beacon Street. CMS was located in the original Congregational House at 7A Beacon Street (1872 - 1899), as well as the current location (from 1899 to the present), where CMS continues the work it started in 1816.
Series I - VI were originally processed May 1, 1992; series VII was processed and added December 12, 1995. There is no documentation explaining how series VII or the original series I - VI came to the Congregational Library.
Series I consists of annual reports from 1841 - 1991, with some gaps. Series II consists of the minutes of the Board of Directors, from 1820 - 1944. Series III consists of the minutes of the Executive Committee, from 1847 - 1944. Series IV consists of subcommittee reports, 1920 - 1937; lists of life members from 1857 - 1913 and correspondence with several East Boston Churches (Bennington Street, Baker, Maverick). Series V consists of financial records: donors 1845 - 1861; account books, 1882 - 1922 and ledgers, 1920 - 1927. Series VI contains historical and printed material, which is detailed in the container list.
Series VII contains eighty - one ca. 1890 - 1905 lantern slides. Images include churches and/or congregations in Dorchester, Roxbury, East Boston (including Maverick and Baker, mentioned in series IV), Franklin Park, Brighton, Hyde Park, Everett, Charleston, Belmont, Saugus and Boston, Massachusetts, as well as Cleveland, Ohio. A number of these slides also show the neighborhoods around the churches and/or recreational images, such as picnics. The images also include the Boston Seaman's Friend Society (including an image of the Bethel boat, the "Seaman's Friend") and City Missionary Society's Rosemary Cottage in Eliot, Maine (built in 1888 as a summer home for poor children).
Images were identified using the title of the slide and/or information in the slide, along with Richard Taylor's Churches of Christ of The Congregational Way in New England (Benton Harbor, Michigan: self - published, 1989). If there was any question about the location, a note was added. A small portion of the slides did not have any title whatsoever and are currently not identified. The slides are arranged by geographic location and have identification numbers, so that images from the same location fall together.
John Leslie Dunstan,. A Light to the City: 150 Years of the City Missionary Society of Boston, 1816 - 1966 (Boston, Mass.: Beacon Press, 1966).
|Series I.||Annual reports, 1841 - 1991 (gaps)|
|Series II.||Board of Director minutes, 1820 - 1944|
|Series III.||Executive Committee minutes, 1847 - 1944|
|Series IV.||Subcommittee records, 1920 - 1937; Memberships, 1857 - 1913; Church
correspondence, 1885 - 1912
|Series V.||Financial records, 1845 - 1927|
|Series VI.||Historical and printed material, 20th century|
|Series VII.||Lantern slides|
See hard copy for container list.