Books by Researchers
We always like to know when scholars who have used our collections in their research use the information they find to write books so that we can purchase them and make them available to others. Listed here are just some of the works produced through research at the Congregational Library and Archives. If you have a book we should add, please let us know.
Rally the Scattered Believers : Northern New England's Religious Geography by Shelby M. Balik (2014)
Winner, 2014 Phi Alpha Theta First Book Award
Northern New England, a rugged landscape dotted with transient settlements, posed challenges to the traditional town church in the wake of the American Revolution. Using the methods of spatial geography, Shelby M. Balik examines how migrants adapted their understanding of religious community and spiritual space to survive in the harsh physical surroundings of the region. The notions of boundaries, place, and identity they developed became the basis for spreading New England's deeply rooted spiritual culture, even as it opened the way to a new evangelical age.
Dividing the Faith: The Rise of Segregated Churches in the Early American North by Richard J. Boles (2020)
Phillis Wheatley was stolen from her family in Senegambia, and, in 1761, slave traders transported her to Boston, Massachusetts, to be sold. She was purchased by the Wheatley family who treated Phillis far better than most eighteenth-century slaves could hope, and she received a thorough education while still, of course, longing for her freedom. After four years, Wheatley began writing religious poetry. She was baptized and became a member of a predominantly white Congregational church in Boston. More than ten years after her enslavement began, some of her poetry was published in London, England, as a book titled Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. This book is evidence that her experience of enslavement was exceptional. Wheatley remains the most famous black Christian of the colonial era. Though her experiences and accomplishments were unique, her religious affiliation with a predominantly white church was quite ordinary.
Dividing the Faith argues that, contrary to the traditional scholarly consensus, a significant portion of northern Protestants worshipped in interracial contexts during the eighteenth century. Yet in another fifty years, such an affiliation would become increasingly rare as churches were by-and-large segregated. Richard Boles draws from the records of over four hundred congregations to scrutinize the factors that made different Christian traditions either accessible or inaccessible to African American and American Indian peoples. By including Indians, Afro-Indians, and black people in the study of race and religion in the North, this research breaks new ground and uses patterns of church participation to illuminate broader social histories. Overall, it explains the dynamic history of racial integration and segregation in northern colonies and states.
To Plead Our Own Cause by Christopher Cameron (2014)
The antislavery movement entered an important new phase when William Lloyd Garrison began publishing the Liberator in 1831 — a phase marked by massive petition campaigns, the extraordinary mobilization of female activists, and the creation of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society. While the period from 1831 to 1865 is known as the heyday of radical abolitionism, the work of Garrison's predecessors in Massachusetts was critical in laying the foundation for antebellum abolitionism. To Plead Our Own Cause explores the significant contributions of African Americans in the Bay State to both local and nationwide antislavery activity before 1831 and demonstrates that their efforts represent nothing less than the beginning of organized abolitionist activity in America.
Fleshing out the important links between Reformed theology, the institution of slavery, and the rise of the antislavery movement, author Christopher Cameron argues that African Americans in Massachusetts initiated organized abolitionism in America and that their antislavery ideology had its origins in Puritan thought and the particular system of slavery that this religious ideology shaped in Massachusetts. The political activity of black abolitionists was central in effecting the abolition of slavery and the slave trade within the Bay State, and it was likewise key in building a national antislavery movement in the years of the early republic. Even while abolitionist strategies were evolving, much of the rhetoric and tactics that well-known abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass employed in the mid-nineteenth century had their origins among blacks in Massachusetts during the eighteenth century.
Mr. Cameron used materials from our collection of the Old South Church (Boston, Mass.) records.
Charity and Sylvia : A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America by Rachel Hope Cleves (2014)
Conventional wisdom holds that same-sex marriage is a purely modern innovation, a concept born of an overtly modern lifestyle that was unheard of in nineteenth century America. But as Rachel Hope Cleves demonstrates in this eye-opening book, same-sex marriage is hardly new.
Born in 1777, Charity Bryant was raised in Massachusetts. A brilliant and strong-willed woman with a clear attraction for her own sex, Charity found herself banished from her family home at age twenty. She spent the next decade of her life traveling throughout Massachusetts, working as a teacher, making intimate female friends, and becoming the subject of gossip wherever she lived. At age twenty-nine, still defiantly single, Charity visited friends in Weybridge, Vermont. There she met a pious and studious young woman named Sylvia Drake. The two soon became so inseparable that Charity decided to rent rooms in Weybridge. In 1809, they moved into their own home together, and over the years, came to be recognized, essentially, as a married couple. Revered by their community, Charity and Sylvia operated a tailor shop employing many local women, served as guiding lights within their church, and participated in raising their many nieces and nephews.
Charity and Sylvia is the intimate history of their extraordinary forty-four year union. Drawing on an array of original documents including diaries, letters, and poetry, Cleves traces their lives in sharp detail. Providing an illuminating glimpse into a relationship that turns conventional notions of same-sex marriage on their head, and reveals early America to be a place both more diverse and more accommodating than modern society might imagine, Charity and Sylvia is a significant contribution to our limited knowledge of LGBT history in early America.
Albert Luthuli : Bound By Faith by Scott Couper (2010)
Much public historical mythology asserts that Chief Albert Luthuli, former president of the African National Congress (ANC), launched an armed struggle upon his return to South Africa after having received the Nobel Peace Prize. This misinterpretation sparks what is arguably one of the most relevant and controversial historical debates in South Africa. Due to Luthuli's domestic and international prominence and his impeccable moral character, politicians and political parties justify, in part, their past actions and their contemporary relevance through a contrived historical memory. Often, that memory is not compatible with the archival record. Contrary to a nationalist inspired historical perspective, this book argues that Luthuli did not support the initiation of violence in December 1961. Luthuli's ecclesiastical tradition, Congregationalism, embedded within him the primacy of democracy, education, sacrificial service, multiracialism, and egalitarianism, propelling him to the heights of political leadership. However, these same seminal emphases rendered Luthuli obsolete as a political leader within an increasingly radicalized, desperate, and violent environment. While the Christian faith fuelled his political success, it engendered his irrelevance following the ANC's resort to violence. By not supporting the ANC's armed movement, Luthuli's political career proved to be "bound by faith".
Cherokee Sister : The Collected Writings of Catharine Brown, 1818-1823 edited by Theresa Strouth Gaul (2014)
Catharine Brown (1800?–1823) became Brainerd Mission School's first Cherokee convert to Christianity, a missionary teacher, and the first Native American woman whose own writings saw extensive publication in her lifetime. After her death from tuberculosis at age twenty-three, the missionary organization that had educated and later employed Brown commissioned a posthumous biography, Memoir of Catharine Brown, which enjoyed widespread contemporary popularity and praise.
In the following decade, her writings, along with those of other educated Cherokees, became highly politicized and were used in debates about the removal of the Cherokees and other tribes to Indian Territory. Although she was once viewed by literary critics as a docile and dominated victim of missionaries who represented the tragic fate of Indians who abandoned their identities, Brown is now being reconsidered as a figure of enduring Cherokee revitalization, survival, adaptability, and leadership.
In Cherokee Sister Theresa Strouth Gaul collects all of Brown's writings, consisting of letters and a diary, some appearing in print for the first time, as well as Brown's biography and a drama and poems about her. This edition of Brown's collected works and related materials firmly establishes her place in early nineteenth-century culture and her influence on American perceptions of Native Americans.
Professor Gaul used our collection of Catharine Brown's correspondence extensively in preparing this book.
Towards World Heritage : International Origins of the Preservation Movement, 1870-1930 edited by Melanie Hall (2011)
Historic preservation, whether of landscapes or buildings, was an important development of the nineteenth century in many countries. There is however surprisingly little understanding about how it took place, and research into it is narrowly focused. For example, generally landscape preservation from this time is examined separately from buildings; preservation is seen in terms of national narratives, or considered within the contexts of area studies, and it is usually seen from a specific disciplinary perspective. All of these later categorizations did not apply at the time and consequently, a very partial view is achieved. In order to begin unlocking a very complex phenomenon that has helped to define our own age, this dynamic collection of essays brings together a transdisciplinary line-up of academics and practitioners to reconsider preservation's origins in the second half of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries. With a focus on Britain and the British Empire, and including case studies from the United States, Sweden, France, Germany, and Turkey, this book places preservation in imperial, international, and national contexts, demonstrating that there was far more interaction between different countries in this arena than may be supposed and revealing remarkable but hitherto hidden overlaps and intersections. It examines three main themes: the influence of religion; the political and sub-diplomatic aspect of preservation; and the professionalization of preservation practice. Internationalizing trends already existed through the churches, the universities, and the diplomatic services, as well as familial ties that had an important impact on preservation's epistemic communities and its targets. Other internationalizing factors include an interest in national histories and the histories of architecture and art, particularly when known through illustration; a growing interest in biography especially of 'founding fathers' or famous literary figures; and tourism. Although the focus is on architectural preservation, this book demonstrates that, in this formative period, the preservation of landscape and buildings need to be considered together — as they were at the time. The conclusion reached is that the preservation movement has to be understood in imperial and international contexts, rather than in simply national or regional ones.
A World of Their Own : A History of South African Women's Education by Meghan Healy-Clancy (2014)
The politics of black education has long been a key issue in southern African studies, but despite rich debates on the racial and class dimensions of schooling, historians have neglected their distinctive gendered dynamics. A World of Their Own is the first book to explore the meanings of black women's education in the making of modern South Africa. Its lens is a social history of the first high school for black South African women, Inanda Seminary, from its 1869 founding outside of Durban through the recent past.
Employing diverse archival and oral historical sources, Meghan Healy-Clancy reveals how educated black South African women developed a tradition of social leadership, by both working within and pushing at the boundaries of state power. She demonstrates that although colonial and apartheid governance marginalized women politically, it also valorized the social contributions of small cohorts of educated black women. This made space for growing numbers of black women to pursue careers as teachers and health workers over the course of the twentieth century. After the student uprisings of 1976, as young black men increasingly rejected formal education for exile and street politics, young black women increasingly stayed in school and cultivated an alternative form of student politics. Inanda Seminary students' experiences vividly show how their academic achievements challenged the narrow conceptions of black women's social roles harbored by both officials and black male activists. By the transition to democracy in the early 1990s, black women outnumbered black men at every level of education — introducing both new opportunities for women and gendered conflicts that remain acute today.
Religion in the Age of Enlightenment, vol. 2 edited by Brett C. McInelly (2010)
Religion in the Age of Enlightenment publishes scholarly examinations of (1) religion and religious attitudes and practices during the age of Enlightenment; (2) the impact of the Enlightenment on religion, religious thought, and religious experience; and (3) the ways religion informed Enlightenment ideas and values, from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including, but not limited to, history, theology, literature, philosophy, the social and physical sciences, economics, and the law.
Dr. Howard's article in this volume focuses on Jonathan Edwards's time as minister in Stockbridge, Mass. during the 1750s and how his experiences altered his thinking. He preached not only to the colonial settlers, but also to the native Mohawk and Mohican residents who had converted to Christianity. Interacting with those various groups, along with his continued studies in Enlightenment philosophy, led Edwards to change the ways in which he preached about sin.
The First American Evangelical : A Short Life of Cotton Mather by Rick Kennedy (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 in this new biography Rick Kennedy tells a bigger story: Mather, he says, was the very first American evangelical.
A fresh retelling of Cotton Mather's life, this biography corrects misconceptions and focuses on how he sought 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.
Incorporating the latest scholarly research but written for a popular audience, The First American Evangelical brings Cotton Mather and his world to life in a way that helps readers understand both the Puritanism in which he grew up and the evangelicalism he pioneered.
The Birth of a Nation : How a Legendary Filmmaker and a Crusading Editor Reignited America's Civil War by Dick Lehr (2014)
In 1915, two men — one a journalist agitator, the other a technically brilliant filmmaker — incited a public confrontation that roiled America, pitting black against white, Hollywood against Boston, and free speech against civil rights.
William Monroe Trotter and D. W. Griffith were fighting over a film that dramatized the Civil War and Reconstruction in a post-Confederate South. Almost fifty years earlier, Monroe's father, James, was a sergeant in an all-black Union regiment that marched into Charleston, South Carolina, just as the Kentucky cavalry — including "Roaring Jake" Griffith, D. W.'s father — fled for their lives. Griffith's film, The Birth of a Nation, included actors in blackface, heroic portraits of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and a depiction of Lincoln's assassination. Freed slaves were portrayed as villainous, vengeful, slovenly, and dangerous to the sanctity of American values. It was tremendously successful, eventually seen by 25 million Americans. But violent protests against the film flared up across the country.
Monroe Trotter's titanic crusade to have the film censored became a blueprint for dissent during the 1950s and 1960s. This is the fiery story of a revolutionary moment for mass media and the nascent civil rights movement, and the men clashing over the cultural and political soul of a still-young America standing at the cusp of its greatest days.
Selected Journals of Caroline Healey Dall edited by Helen R. Deese for the Massachusetts Historical Society (2006, 2013)
A native of Boston and daughter of a prominent merchant, Caroline Healey Dall (1822-1912) became involved in many movements vital to the history of New England and the nation. As a young woman, she was invited into the social circles of New England transcendentalism, where she associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, among others. Later, she took part in the Garrisonian women's movement, lecturing, writing, and co-editing a newspaper for the cause. This work culminated in her pioneering and seminal publication, The College, the Market, and the Court; Or, Woman's Relation to Education, Labor, and Law (1867). Dall was also one of the founders and a long-time officer of the American Social Science Association, where she worked for improvements in prison conditions, the treatment of the insane, public health, and education. After 1878 Dall lived in Washington, D.C., where she associated with congressmen, Supreme Court justices, members of the scientific community, and their families, and was an intimate friend of First Lady Frances Folsum Cleveland. Late in her life Dall took on the role of historian of the Transcendentalist movement, publishing Margaret and Her Friends, an account of Margaret Fuller's "conversations," and Transcendentalism in New England.
For approximately 75 years Dall kept a daily journal of her feelings and her observations of the world of intellectual ferment in which she participated. This journal manuscript is a part of the large Caroline Dall Papers collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Damnable Heresy : William Pynchon, the Indians, and the First Book Banned (and Burned) in Boston by David M. Powers (2015)
Misunderstandings between races, hostilities between cultures. Anxiety from living in a time of war in one's own land. Being accused of profiteering when food was scarce. Unruly residents in a remote frontier community. Charged with speaking the unspeakable and publishing the unprintable. All of this can be found in the life of one man — William Pynchon, the Puritan entrepreneur and founder of Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1636.
Two things in particular stand out in Pynchon's pioneering life: he enjoyed extraordinary and uniquely positive relationships with Native peoples, and he wrote the first book banned — and burned — in Boston.
Now for the first time, this book provides a comprehensive account of Pynchon's story, beginning in England, through his New England adventures, to his return home. Discover the fabric of his times and the roles Pynchon played in the Puritan venture in Old England and New England.
Researchers trying to locate records of an old church, or of one no longer in existence, will find this series immensely helpful. This collection provides a well-researched and informative introduction for six different regions of the United States, and a detailed index of mergers, closings, and name changes for every known Congregational Church and post-merger Congregational Christian Church ever organized, from the colonial period to the present.
Much of Rev. Taylor's data for these books was painstakingly compiled and researched using annual reports from state and regional associations, local and national periodicals, and materials from individual churches within our collections.
The Churches of Christ of the Congregational Way in New England (1989), available in digital form
(We have transcribed Taylor's abbreviation keys for this book for easy reference.)
All of these volumes are available for purchase. Please visit the author's website for more information.
The Martyrdom of Abolitionist Charles Torrey by E. Fuller Torrey (2013)
During his brief yet remarkable career, abolitionist Charles Torrey — called the "father of the Underground Railroad" by his peers — assisted almost four hundred slaves in gaining their freedom. A Yale graduate and an ordained minister, Torrey set up a well-organized route for escaped slaves traveling from Washington and Baltimore to Philadelphia and Albany. Arrested in Baltimore in 1844 for his activities, Torrey spent two years in prison before he succumbed to tuberculosis. By then, other abolitionists widely recognized and celebrated Torrey's exploits: running wagonloads of slaves northward in the night, dodging slave catchers and sheriffs, and involving members of Congress in his schemes. Nonetheless, the historiography of abolitionism has largely overlooked Torrey's fascinating and compelling story.
The Martyrdom of Abolitionist Charles Torrey presents the first comprehensive biography of one of America's most dedicated abolitionists. According to author E. Fuller Torrey, a distant relative, Charles Torrey pushed the abolitionist movement to become more political and active. He helped advance the faction that challenged the leadership of William Lloyd Garrison, provoking an irreversible schism in the movement and making Torrey and Garrison bitter enemies. Torrey played an important role in the formation of the Liberty Party and in the emergence of political abolitionism. Not satisfied with the slow pace of change, he also pioneered aggressive abolitionism by personally freeing slaves, likely liberating more than any other person. In doing so, he inspired many others, including John Brown, who cited Torrey as one of his role models.
E. Fuller Torrey's study not only fills a substantial gap in the history of abolitionism but restores Charles Torrey to his rightful place as one of the most dedicated and significant abolitionists in American history.
A New Christian Identity: Christian Science Origins and Experience in American Culture by Amy B. Voorhees (2021)
Voorhees traces a surprising story of religious origins, cultural conversations, and controversies. She contextualizes Christian Science within a wide swath of cultural and religious movements, showing how Eddy and her followers interacted regularly with Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Catholics, Jews, New Thought adherents, agnostics, and Theosophists. Influences flowed in both directions, but Voorhees argues that Christian Science was distinct not only organizationally, as scholars have long viewed it, but also theologically, a singular expression of Christianity engaging modernity with an innovative, healing rationale.
Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England by Douglas L. Winiarski (2017)
This sweeping history of popular religion in eighteenth-century New England examines the experiences of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. Drawing on an unprecedented quantity of letters, diaries, and testimonies, Douglas Winiarski recovers the pervasive and vigorous lay piety of the early eighteenth century. George Whitefield's preaching tour of 1740 called into question the fundamental assumptions of this thriving religious culture. Incited by Whitefield and fascinated by miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit — visions, bodily fits, and sudden conversions — countless New Englanders broke ranks with family, neighbors, and ministers who dismissed their religious experiences as delusive enthusiasm. These new converts, the progenitors of today's evangelical movement, bitterly assaulted the Congregational establishment.
The 1740s and 1750s were the dark night of the New England soul, as men and women groped toward a restructured religious order. Conflict transformed inclusive parishes into exclusive networks of combative spiritual seekers. Then as now, evangelicalism emboldened ordinary people to question traditional authorities. Their challenge shattered whole communities.
This book is the winner of a 2018 Bancroft Prize in American History and Diplomacy.