Boston, Massachusetts. City Mission Society. Records, 1820-2006.

Collection Information

Boston, Mass. City Mission Society, records 1820-2006.


City Mission Society of Boston
City Missionary Society (Boston, Mass.)
The Boston Society for the Moral and Religious Instruction for the Poor




3 clamshell boxes, 6 flat storage boxes, 2 document cases, 1 record carton, 7 volumes (5.12 cubic feet)

Collection ID #:


Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is open to the public.

Physical Access:

Scrapbooks are in poor condition. Use extra care in handling.

Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the City Missionary Society (Boston, Mass.) records, RG1031. The Congregational Library & Archives, Boston, MA.

Additional Resources:

Index to lantern slides in collection file. Consult the archivist for more information.



Processing information:

Processed by Congregational Library & Archive staff, 1995.

Revision History:

Accrual and re-description by Jessica Steytler, August 2014, using DACS Second Edition.


The Boston Society for the Moral and Religious Instruction for the Poor was organized October 9, 1816; its current name is the City Mission Society of Boston. The collection includes annual reports, minutes of meetings from board of directors and committees; financial records; programs run by the Society; photographs and lantern slides.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Robert Lovett, Baker Library, Harvard University, 1967. Lantern slides deposited at an unknown date.


There have been several accruals over the years. Materials are added to this collection on an intermittent basis.


Historical Note[1]

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. The original Board of Directors were Samuel Armstrong, Charles Cleveland, Pliny Cutler, Henry Homes, John Hopkins, John Proctor, Samuel Train and Josiah Vinton, Jr. Please note that many of the wives and relatives of these men were active and founding members of the Corban Society (Massachusetts) and Graham Society (Massachusetts); 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.[2]

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 seaman.[3] The Society was in part a response to the problems of the increased urbanization of Boston. There was an increase in immigration, as laborers were recruited for building railroads and as mill laborers.[4] 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.[5] 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 (CMS) 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),[6] where CMS continues the work it started in 1816.


Scope of Collection

Collection includes annual reports, minutes of meetings from board of directors and committees; financial records; programs run by the Society; photographs and lantern slides. The Congregational Library & Archives does not hold a complete record of materials, as the organization is still active and retains many of its own records.


Further Searches

Subject Headings

After school programs.

African Americans - Massachusetts - Boston-Social conditions.

African Americans - Massachusetts - Boston - Religion.

Benevolent societies.

Boston (Mass.) - History.

Boston (Mass.) - Race relations.

Boston (Mass.) - Social Conditions.

Boston Seaman's Friend Society.

The Boston Society for the Moral and Religious Instruction for the Poor.

Camp Andover (Meredith, NH).

Camp Waldron (Meredith, NH).

City Mission Society of Boston.

City missions.

City missions - United States - History - 20th century.

Civil rights movements - Massachusetts - Boston.

Huntington, Joshua, 1751-1821.

Poor - Boston - Massachusetts.

Salisbury, Josiah.

Summer camps.

Thurston, William.

Vose, Thomas.


Related Materials

Boston City Missionary Society. Portraits. Image Collection

City Mission Society annual reports, 1817-1988. 3.9

Cleveland, Charles. Addresses and Reports. 3.9

Dunstan, John Leslie. A Light to the City: 150 years of the City Missionary Society of Boston, 1816-1966. Boston, Mass. 1966.



Series I. Annual reports, 1841-1991 (gaps)
Series II. Meeting Minutes and Reports
Series III. Financial
Series IV. Programs
Series V. Historical and printed material, 20th century
Series VI. Lantern slides, undated
The slides are arranged by geographic location and have identification numbers, so that images from the same location fall together. For an index to the slides, request a copy from the collection file from the archivist.
The annual report volumes and published history are on the shelf stored after the boxed items.



Series I: Annual Reports

Date: 1841-1990
Extent: 6 bound volumes, 1 box, 1 folder
Scope of Series: Consists of annual reports from 1841-1990, with some gaps. Some are bound volumes, others are individual issues.
Arrangement: The bound volumes are listed first, followed by individual issues in chronological order, but because they are pamphlets, are not stored in folders. The bound annual report volumes are on the shelf stored after the boxed items.
    Date Volumes
Annual reports 1841-1864 v1
Annual reports 1864-1881 v2
Annual reports 1882-1891 v3
Annual reports 1892-1907 v4
Annual reports 1916-1928 v5
Annual reports 1942-1961 v6
  Date Box/Folder
Annual reports 1841 B1
Annual reports 1843 B1
Annual reports 1844 B1
Annual reports 1852 B1
Annual reports 1855 B1
Annual reports 1913 B1
Annual reports 1929 B1
Annual reports 1930 B1
Annual reports 1930, 1944-1966 B3/F1
Annual reports 1931 B1
Annual reports 1932 B1
Annual reports 1933 B1
Annual reports 1934 B1
Annual reports 1935 B1
Annual reports 1936 B1
Annual reports 1938 B1
Annual reports 1939 B1
Annual reports 1963 B1
Annual reports 1964 B1
Annual reports 1965 B1
Annual reports 1966 B1
Annual reports 1967 B1
Annual reports 1970 B1
Annual reports 1972 B1
Annual reports 1974 B1
Annual reports 1976 B1
Annual reports 1980, 1984-1990 B3/F2

Series II: Meeting Minutes and Reports

Date: 1820-1976
Extent: 3 boxes
Scope of Series: Includes board of directors; corporation; committees including executive.
Arrangement: Arranged by sub-group and then chronologically.
  Date Box/Folder
Charter and bylaws 1976 B1
Board of directors minutes 1820-1866 B2
Board of directors minutes 1867-1922 B2
Board of directors minutes 1923-1938 B2
Board of Directors minutes 1938-1944 B3/F3
Reports to board of directors 1895, circa 1920s B3/F4
Summary of board of directors actions 1923-1937 B3/F5
Corporation statements at annual meetings 1952-1954 B3/F6
Corporation meeting minutes 1952-1959 B3/F7
Corporation meeting minutes 1960-1964 B3/F8
Corporation meeting minutes 1965-1970 B3/F9
Executive committee minutes 1847-1875 B4
Executive committee minutes 1875-1910 B4
Executive committee minutes 1911-1924 B4
Executive committee minutes 1924-1937 B4
Executive committee minutes 1937-1944 B4
Sub-committee reports 1920-1937 B3/F10

Series III: Financial Records

Date: 1845-1920s
Extent: 2 boxes
Scope of Series: Includes lists of donors, life members, account books, and ledgers.
Arrangement: Material in chronological order.
  Date Box/Folder
Donors 1845-1849 B3/F11
Donors 1850-1855 B3/F12
Donors 1856-1861 B3/F22
Life Members 1857-1913 B3/F23
Account Book 1882-1905 B5
Account Book 1907-1922 B5
Investments, Legacies Ledger circa 1920 B5
Expenses, Salaries Ledger 1900s-1920s B3/F13

Series IV: Programs

Date: 1920-2006
Extent: 5 boxes
Scope of Series: CMS has had many programs over the years. The majority of the material from this series is photographs. The bulk of the printed photographs are from Camps Andover and Waldron, which were camps for children 8-15, primarily from lower-income families. Other topics include youth programs, volunteerism, and Rosemary Cottage in Maine.
Arrangement: The photographs are stored in envelopes by approximate size and arranged by topic and within each topic, loosely in chronological order.
  Date Box/Folder
Camps Andover and Waldron architectural drawings 1961, 1968 B3/F14
Camps Andover and Waldron correspondence and printed material 1924-1925, 2006, undated B3/F15
Camp Andover - "Ship Andover" 1932 B3/F16
Camp Waldron photographs 1926-1930 B7/E1
Camp Waldron photographs 1926-1930 B7/E2
Camp Waldron photographs 1926-1930 B7/E3
Camp Waldron photographs 1926-1930 B7/E4
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs 1920s-1960s B7/E5
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs 1920s-1960s B7/E6
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs 1920s-1960s B7/E7
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs 1920s-1960s B6/E1
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs with some documentation of staff names 1920s-1960s B6/E2
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs 1930s-1980s B6/E3
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs 1930s-1980s B6/E4
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs 1940s-1980s B7/E8
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs 1980s-1990s B7/E9
Camps Andover and Waldron photographs 1980s-1990s B7/E10
Camps Andover and Waldron graphic undated B8
  Date Box/Folder
Camp Meadowcrest for Elders photographs undated B6/E5
Church School photographs 1940s B6/E6
East Boston Churches correspondence Bennington Street, Baker, Maverick 1885-1912 B11
Maverick Church project 1907 B3/F17
Photographs of children 1957 B8/E1
Prison program - Behind the Wall and Pole Star publications 1990-2003 (gaps) B3/F18
Rosemary Cottage, Maine printed material 1888, 1929-1930s B3/F19
Rosemary Cottage, Maine photographs undated B8/E2
Rosemary Cottage, Maine photographs undated B8/E3
Rosemary Cottage scrapbook undated B8
Rosemary Cottage, Maine photographs undated B6/E7
Social service program photographs 1960s-1990s B3/F20
Volunteerism photographs 1940s-1970s B8/E4
Volunteerism photographs 1940s-1970s B6/E8
Volunteerism photographs 1950s-1970s B8/F1
  Date Box/Folder
Youth program children's picture and poetry exhibit 1991 B3/F21
Youth program photographs 1940s-1990s B8/E5
Youth program photographs 1940s-1990s B8/E6
Youth program photographs 1940s-1990s B6/E9
Youth program Bird Street, Christmas, summer 1997, 1998 B8/E7
Youth program Hurley after school, Christmas, and drama photographs 1996-1997 B8/E8
Youth program Hurley Arts Program and play photographs 1997-1998 B8/E9
Youth program Hurley artist in residence, drama group photographs 1995-1996 B8/E10
Youth program Hurley, dance class with Adrienne Hawkins 1990 February B8/E11

Series V: Historical and Printed Material

Date: 1862-1991
Extent: 4 boxes
Scope of Series: Materials include anniversaries, histories, speeches, publicity, memorial tributes, clippings and scrapbooks.
Arrangement: Topics are loosely arranged alphabetically and within each topic in chronological order whenever possible. The Publicity section was originally in loose leaf binders. The folder headings mirror the original descriptions and the contents are in original order.
  Date Box/Folder
100th anniversary 1916 B9/F1
125th anniversary 1941 B9/F2
140th anniversary 1956 B9/F3
150th anniversary 1966 B9/F4
A Light to the City: 150 years of the City Missionary Society of Boston, 1816-1966 by John Dunstan 1966 shelf
175th anniversary 1990-1991 B9/F5
Excerpts from CMS histories, preparation For 175th anniversary 1991 B9/F6
Copies of annual reports, preparation For 175th anniversary 1862-1989 (gaps) B9/F7
Research material for anniversary preparation 1947-1989 B9/F8
Corporation address 1930 B9/F9
Calendar diary 1913 B9/F10
Correspondence 1876, 1895, 1900, 1918 B9/F11
Historical sketches 1888-1941 B9/F12
Historical talk, Dedham Riverdale Thanksgiving talk 1927 B9/F13
  Date Box/Folder
In memoriam: Helen Mar Atwood 1898 B1
In memoriam: Laurin Aldin Bumpus 1902 B1
In memoriam: Hariette Carter 1915 B1
In memoriam: Martha Elizabeth Clapp 1902 B1
In memoriam: Lorena Wright Field 1906 B1
In memoriam: Armeda Gibbs 1884 B1
In memoriam: Thomas Thwing 1868 B1
Tribute: Harriet Briggs 1939 B1
Charles Cleveland 90th birthday gathering 1862 B1
Dorchester Old and New Tercentenary, 1630-1930 1930 B1
Lincoln, Mass. Farington memorial undated B1
  Date Box/Folder
"Task of City Missionary Society of Boston in the Next Generation" 1929 B10/F1
Publications - services 1946-1965 B10/F2
Publicity - Camps Andover and Waldron 1920-1967 B10/F3
Publicity - fresh air 1957-1967 B10/F4
Publicity - miscellaneous 1950s B10/F5
Publicity - missionary services 1944-1956 B10/F6
Publicity - summer services 1944-1954 B10/F7
Publicity - Thanksgiving, Christmas 1954-1968 B10/F8
Publicity - volunteerism 1961-1966 B10/F9
News clippings undated B11
Scrapbook, news clippings on CMS 1916-1930s B11
Scrapbook, news clippings on CMS 1965-1968 B11
Scrapbook, news clippings on CMS 1970-1974 B11

Series VI: Lantern Slides and Photographs

Date: undated
Extent: 81 lantern slides, 1 box
Scope of Series: Lantern slides contain eighty-one items circa 1890-1905. Images include churches and/or congregations in Dorchester, Roxbury, East Boston, 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 Elliot, Maine.

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.
Arrangement: The lantern slides are in one grouping.
  Date Box/Folder
Lantern slides undated B12



[1] Parts of the historical note written by CLA staff, 1995. Edited by Jessica Steytler, 2014. For original note, please see collection file for the older guide.

[2] Dunstan, John Leslie. A Light to the City: 150 years of the City Missionary Society of Boston, 1816-1916. Boston, Mass.: 1966),  p. 24.

[3] Ibid., p. 24-27.

[4] Ibid., p. 35, 89.

[5] Ibid., p. 131-132.

[6] Ibid., p. 282.