Cambridge, Massachusetts. Pilgrim Congregational Church of Cambridgeport. Records, 1863-1992.

Collection Information

Cambridge, MA : Pilgrim Congregational Church of Cambridgeport records.


Pilgrim Congregational Church of Cambridgeport (Cambridge, Mass.)
Stearns Chapel (Cambridge, Mass.)




10 boxes, 10.25 linear feet

Collection ID #:

RG 2350

Conditions Governing Access:


Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the Pilgrim Congregational Church of Cambridgeport (Cambridge, Mass.) records, RG 2350. The Congregational Library and Archive, Boston, MA.



Processing information:

Collection processed by Helen Schubert, March/April 2011

Revision History:

Initial inventory by Barbara Austen, September 1992


This collection consists of the records of the Pilgrim Congregational Church of Cambridgeport. It includes official church records, committee records, financial records, membership documents, Sunday School and auxiliary records (especially the Women's Guild), historical notes, photographs, and slides.

Acquisition Information:

Donated by Warren L. Milley (Chairman, Board of Trustees) for Pilgrim Congregational Church.
Received from Rev. Norman Bendroth in September 1992.

Organizational History

Stearns Chapel was erected in 1863 and was located on Harvard Street, near Windsor; it was designed primarily as a Mission Sabbath School (established by Prospect Congregational and neighborhood churches in Cambridgeport in 1852) and operated for a number of years by the First and Second Congregational, Baptist and Methodist churches. In 1865 Mr. Edward Abbott began to hold regular services; by fall the church was formally organized and Abbott installed as minister. The Second Congregational, Baptist and Methodist churches withdrew ca. 1866; in 1871 the First Church also withdrew. The church grew rapidly and a new meetinghouse was completed in 1871 at the corner of Magazine and Cottage Street; the name was changed to Pilgrim Congregational Church of Cambridgeport in the same year. The church closed in 1992.



Taken from 1865-1965 taken from 100th Anniversary celebration program and 1947 calendar.

William R. Stone 1863 (Mission Sabbath School)
Edward Abbott 1865-1869  
George R. Leavitt 1870-1885  
George A. Tewksbury 1885-1889  
Charles Olmstead 1889-1896  
Frank E. Ramsdell 1897-1900  
Charles Wesley Gallagher, D.D. 1900-1902 (interim)
William H. Spence 1902-1906  
Richard Wright 1907-1920  
Clarence Wells Dunham, D.D. 1920-1922 (interim)
Hubert E. Beckwith 1922-1927  
John E. Jaderquist, Ph.D. 1927-1928 (interim)
Stanley H. Addison 1928-1950  
Ralph Ernest Bayes, D.D. 1950-1951 (interim)
Melvin M. Nyman 1951-1962  
Ralph Ernest Bayes, D.D. 1962-1963 (interim)
Philip D. Chamberlain 1963 (supply)
Ralph Ernest Bayes, D.D. 1964 (interim)
Donald A. Wells 1964-1969  
Glen W. Barker 1970 (interim)
David Steele 1971-1984  
D. Stewart, O.D. 1985 (interim)
Norman Bendroth 1986-1992  


Scope of Collection

The Pilgrim Congregational Church records document the history and life of the church, beginning with its predecessor church (Stearns Chapel, 1865-1871) and continuing through its closure in 1992. The collection includes church records, financial records, ministers' records, membership records, auxiliary group records (particularly the Women's Guild), historical information, orders of service and programs, and photographs and lantern slides. Records are more comprehensive for the early years of the church (through the early 1930) and the later decades (late 1960s to 1992) than for the middle of the twentieth century (a notable exception is the 75th Anniversary Celebration in 1940, which is well-documented). Researchers should be sure to look at the historical sketches included with the anniversary celebration materials in Series 7.



The Pilgrim Congregational Church Records are arranged in eight series. The records are arranged chronologically.  Some series span multiple boxes.

Series 1 Stearns Chapel
Series 2 Church Records
Series 3 Financial
Series 4 Ministers
Series 5 Membership
Series 6 Auxiliary Groups, Including Sunday School
Series 7 Historical
Series 8 Photographs and Slides


Related Material

The finished course a sermon commemorative of Thomas Ferrier Jr., who died July 20th 1865 preached at the Stearns Chapel: Cambridgeport, Sabbath, July 30th by Rev. Edward Abbot (1865). Call No.: 15.0.7 6635 FEA-FIT

A Brief History of Pilgrim Church by Rev George R. Leavitt (1889). Call No.: 30.8.1 1004

Cambridge, MA: Pilgrim Congregational Church of Cambridgeport (1869-1940). Call No.: 17.11.1 C14.24 PILCC


Access Terms

Church records and registers - Massachusetts - Cambridge.

Congregational churches - Massachusetts - Cambridge.

Cambridgeport (Mass.) - Church History.

Cambridge (Mass.) - Church history.

Massachusetts - Church History.

Pilgrim Congregational Church of Cambridgeport (Cambridge, Mass.)

Stearns Chapel (Cambridge, Mass.)



Detailed Description and Container List

Series 1: Stearns Chapel 1865-1872

The Stearns Chapel records include the Stearns Chapel Manual, membership list, Sabbath School programs, Orders of service, newsletter, correspondence, American Board of Commission for Foreign Missions receipts, and Committee reports for the examination, visiting, and neighborhood prayer meeting committees. There are also records from this time period in Series 5 (Membership).
Box 1    
Folder 1 Stearns Chapel 1865-1872
Folder 2 Stearns Chapel Committee Reports 1860s-1971
return to series list

Series 2: Church Records 1872-1991

This series includes the Act of incorporation, church manuals, annual meeting minutes, annual reports, Deacons' and Trustees' records, Church Committee and Standing Committee records, other committee records, and correspondence. Records books for 1872-1914 and "notes on business meetings" for 1915-1930 have these different types of records together in chronological order, along with some membership records. Committee records (not including the Church Committee) are included for the 1970s-1991 only, and do not provide complete coverage. Correspondence is intermittent.

Two Books of Church Committee records, covering 1894-1902, were removed due to mold.
Box 1  
Folder 3 Act of Incorporation 1871
Folder 4 Manual of the Pilgrim Congregational Church 1873, 1891, 1930
Folders 5-14 Notes on Business Meetings 1915-1930
Folder 15 Warrants to Call Meetings 1880-1883
Folder 16 Warrants to Call Meetings 1888-1891
Folder 17 Church Election Ballots (Annual Meeting) 1906-1915
Folder 18 Annual and Business Meeting Minutes 1915-1931
Folder 19 Annual Meetings 1941-1943
Folder 20 Annual Reports (Photocopied) 1896-1897
Folder 21 Annual Reports 1914-1915
Folder 22 Annual Reports 1917-1931
Folder 23 Annual Report for 1937 and Correspondence 1937-1938
Folder 24 Annual Report for 1938 and Correspondence 1938-1940
Folder 25 Annual Reports 1940-1942
Folders 26-27 Annual Reports 1968-1970, 1973,
Folder 28 Suffolk North Conference Meetings & Report 1891, 1908, 1942
Folders 29-32 Board of Deacons' Records 1964-1984
Folder 33 Board of Deacons' Treasurer's Reports 1987-1988
Folder 34 Elders' and Deacons' Records 1980-1990 (gaps)
Box 2  
Folder 1 Board of Trustees' Minutes and Correspondence 1991-1992
Folder 2 Job Descriptions 1980s
Folders 3-7 Church Committee Minutes 1871-1881
Folder 8 Standing Committee Book of Records 1881-1884
Folder 9 Standing Committee and Financial Records 1887-1890
Folders 10-11 Church Committee Minutes 1902-1914
Folders 12-17 Church Committee Minutes 1915-1950
Folder 18 Church Committee Records 1966-1969
Folders 19-23 Church Committee Minutes and Correspondence 1971-1984
Folders 24-25 Church Committee Minutes and Correspondence 1986-1991
Folder 26 Church Committee Nominating Committee 1971-1972
Folder 27 Committee Lists 1886-1926 (gaps)
Folder 28 Committee Lists 1968-1979 (gaps)
Box 3  
Folder 1 Committee Reports 1878, 1881
Folder 2 Calling Committee 1930s
Folder 3 Calling Committee 1973-1983
Folder 4 Property Committee 1965-1985 (gaps)
Folder 5 Music Committee 1968-1991
(bulk 1984-1991)
Folder 6 Finance Committee 1971-1985, 1990
Folder 7 Evaluation Committee 1974-1976
Folder 8 Planning Committee 1974-1989
Folder 9 Fellowship Committee 1980s-1990
Folder 10 Proposal for New Initiatives in Church Development Funding 1984
Folder 11 Vision Task Force 1989-1991
Folder 12 Correspondence 1875-1883
Folders 13-14 Correspondence 1886-1891
Folder 15 Correspondence 1895-1898
Folder 16 Correspondence 1915-1919
Folder 17 Correspondence 1920s-1950
Folder 18 Correspondence 1987-1990
Box 9  
Folders 1-3 Church Records, Bound Volumes 1872-1914
Folder 4 Warrants to Call Meetings 1917-1931
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Series 3: Financial 1892-1992 (bulk 1922-1992)

The Financial records predominantly consist of ledgers and treasurers' reports (including benevolence treasurer's reports).  Treasurers' reports up through 1942 are annual reports, while Treasurers' reports from 1971-1992 are predominantly monthly reports, with some annual reports included. Also of note are fundraising letters from the pastor and financial committee, wills, trust account, and records related to the rental and sale of church properties.
Box 3  
Folder 19 Financial ledger 1922-1938
Folders 20-25 Financial ledgers 1956-1982
Folder 26 Financial ledgers 1987-1988
Folder 27 Financial ledger 1990
Folder 28 Cash and Disbursements 1969-1970.
Folder 29 Check Registers 1986-1987
Box 4  
Folder 1 Treasurers' Reports and Fundraising Letters 1892-1893,
Folder 2-4 Treasurer's Reports 1914-1931
Folders 5 Treasurers' Reports 1940, 1942
Folders 6-7 Treasurers' Report Books 1971-1988
Folders 8-10 Treasurers' Reports 1971-1992
Folder 11 Treasurers' Records 1880s
Folder 12 Treasurers' Records 1980s
Folder 13 Financial Records; Statistics for Yearbook 1924-1931
Folder 14 Financial Records 1959-1971 (gaps)
Folder 15 Financial Correspondence 1959, 1961-1969
Folder 16 Budgets 1975-1980
Folder 17 Tax Returns 1986
Folder 18 Fundraising Letters 1919-1938 (gaps)
Folder 19 Fundraising Letters 1978-1992
Folder 20 Stewardship 1966, 1968-1972
Folder 21 Offering Envelope Lists 1968-1972
Folder 22 Wills 1920s-1970s
Folder 23 Memorial Gifts 1971
Folder 24 James A. Dow Trust Account 1972-1989
Folder 25 Alice J. Coolidge Trust Account 1987-1989
Folder 26 Church Insurance Policies 1967-1968
Folder 27 Property Deeds and Correspondence 1864-1929 (gaps)
Folder 28 Property (Upton and Kinnaird St.) Records 1930s-1960s
Folder 29 Property and Financial Records 1930s-1980
Folder 30 Building Rentals 1950s-1970s
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Series 4: Ministers 1889-1990 (bulk 1889-1928)

The Ministers series consists primarily of records related to the installation and/or resignation of ministers from 1889-1928; not all ministers from this time period are represented. Records for Rev. Hubert Beckwith are more extensive and cover his entire tenure.
Box 4  
Folder 31 Rev. George Tewksbury Resignation 1889
Folder 32 Rev. Charles Olmstead Call and Installation 1889
Folder 33 Rev. Richard Wright Resignation 1920
Folder 34 Rev. Hubert Beckwith 1922-1928
Folder 35 Rev. Stanley Addison Installation 1928
Folder 36 Rev. Norman Bendroth Pastoral Evaluation 1989-1990
Folder 37 Pastor Search Correspondence 1900-1901
return to series list

Series 5: Membership 1865-1930

This series includes lists of members at intermittent points in time, sporadic vital records, and admissions and dismissions (letters indicating a member is joining or leaving the church).

An additional box of membership letters was removed due to mold.
Box 4  
Folder 38 Membership Book 1865-1933
Box 5  
Folder 1 Church Register 1870-1884
Folder 2 Membership Lists 1889, 1897
Folder 3 Membership List 1929
Folder 4 Membership Lists 1938
Folder 5 Membership List 1968
Folder 6 Vital Statistics 1870s-1910s
Folder 7 Vital Statistics: Deaths 1937
Folder 8 Membership: Examination of Candidates 1877
Folder 9 Membership: Admissions 1877
Folder 10 Membership: Dismissions 1883
Folder 11 Membership: Admissions and Dismissions 1897, 1899-1900
Folders 12-18 Membership: Admissions and Dismissions 1911, 1917-1930
Folder 19 Membership Certificate and Covenant 1920s
Box 9  
Folder 5 Pastors, Deacons, Members Lists 1865-1915
return to series list

Series 6: Auxiliary and Social Groups – Includes Sunday School 1874-1990s

The most complete set of records for the Auxiliary groups is for the Women's Guild Service Club and its antecedents, the Women's Guild and the Ladies' Aid Society. The financial records for these groups from 1895-1962 include membership lists; the records books from 1934-1973 include minutes and annual reports. The series also include records for a small number of other social groups, the Sunday School and other Christian education groups, and the Missions Committee Records for the 1965-1990.
Box 5  
Folder 20 Sunday School Programs 1874-1923
Folder 21 Sunday School Annual and Treasurers' Reports 1923-1931
Folder 22 Sunday School Annual and Treasurers' Reports 1941-1943
Folder 23 Sunday School Records 1960s-1970s
Folder 24 Sunday School Financial Records 1964-1966
Folder 25 Sunday School Financial Records 1975-1977
Folder 26 Little Pilgrim Catechism and Missions Class 1870s-1880s
Folder 27 Christian Education Committee 1964-1965
Folder 28 Christian Education Committee 1987-1990
Folder 29 Inquirers' Class 1980s-1990s
Folder 30 Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor 1889-1890s, 1940s
Folder 31 Women's Missionary Society Secretary's Record Book 1905-1912
Folder 32 Philia Club 1930-1950
Folder 33 Service Club 1940s-1950s
Folder 34 Mr. & Mrs. Club Officers and Financial 1951-1961
Folder 35 Ladies' Aid Society: Pilgrim Serving Society Cash Book 1895-1916
Folder 36 Ladies' Aid Society Treasurer's Books 1915-1937
Box 6  
Folder 1 Women's Guild Missionary, Financial, Membership 1935-1962
Folder 2 Women's Guild Annual Reports 1931-1935
Folders 3-6 Women's Guild Records 1934-1966
Folder 7 Women’s Guild Minutes 1966-1973
Folder 8 Women's Guild Service Club 1975-1978
Folder 9 Missionary and Benevolence Committee 1965-1985 (gaps)
Folder 10 Missions Correspondence 1978-1990
Folder 11 Missions Scholarship Applications 1988
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Series 7: History, Programs, and Activities 1875-1992

The Historical records include historical sketches, newspaper clippings, and programs and materials from anniversary celebrations, including a large amount of material concerning the 75th Anniversary celebration. Of particular note is the "Memories of Pilgrim Congregational Church" scrapbook, compiled by the pastor and congregation at the time of its closing in 1992.

The series also includes records of church activities and programs, especially from end of the 19th Century through the first half of the 20th Century and during the 1980s, the church's last decade (including both church-sponsored events and community programs with which the church was involved). These records also include issues of Pilgrim/Cambridgeport Together, a newsletter put out by the church in the late 1980s.

A copy of "A Brief History of Pilgrim Church" by Rev. George Leavitt (1889) was removed due to mold; a copy of this publication is located in the Congregational Library's holdings.
Box 6  
Folder 12 Church Histories multiple dates
Folder 13 Newspaper Clippings 1889-1960s
Folder 14 10th Anniversary Celebration and Historical Discourse 1875-1876
Folder 15 25th Anniversary Celebration 1890
Folder 16 50th Anniversary Celebration and Historical Address 1915
Folders 17-26 75th Anniversary 1939-1940
Folder 27 100th Anniversary Celebration 1965
Folder 28 125th Anniversary Celebration 1990
Folders 29-30 Memories of Pilgrim Congregational Church 1992
Folder 31 Birthday Anniversary Calendar 1947
Folder 32 Pilgrim Congregational Church Worshipbook 1988
Folder 33 Orders of Service: Gospel Song Service 1889-1890
Folders 34-40 Orders of Service 1871-1930 (gaps)
Box 7  
Folders 1-3 Orders of Service 1934-1939
Folder 4 Orders of Service 1940s-1970s
Folder 5 Programs 1880s-1940s
Folder 6 Auditorium Renovation and Rededication 1936
Folder 7 Fellowship and Activities 1960s-1970s
Folder 8 Organ Preservation and Benefit Concert 1988-1989
Folder 9 Festival of Joy 1989
Folder 10 Speakers and Events 1990-1991
Folder 11 Summer Union Services with First United Presbyterian 1991
Folder 12 Multicultural Celebration and Dedication 1991
Folder 13 Neighborhood Publicity and Outreach 1980s
Folder 14 "Together" Outreach Project 1987-1990
Folder 15 Pilgrim/Cambridgeport Together 1987-1990
Folder 16 "Peace Camp" Soviet Exchange 1988-1990
Folder 17 "Children's Haven" Children's Program 1989
Box 8  
Folder 1 Cambridge Clergy for Affordable Housing 1990-1991
Folder 2 Cambridge After School Center 1991-1992
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Series 8: Photographs, Slides and Memorabilia 1898-1990

Included are photographs of the church building and church members.  The bulk of the photos are from the 1940s-1960s and from 1990. Some, but not all, of the photographs are labeled, identifying their subjects. There is also one folder containing two buttons from children's programs.  The last box contains 75 lantern slides (housed in 6 smaller boxes), primarily of portraits of uniformed military members.
Box 8  
Folder 3 Photograph: Unknown Subject undated
Folder 4 Photographs: Intermediate Society 1898
Folder 5 Photographs 1940s-1960s
Folder 6 Photographs: Rev. Donald Wells Ordination 1964
Folder 7 Photograph: Church Committee 1967-1968
Folder 8 Photographs: Church Building 1990
Folder 9 Photographs: 125th Anniversary Celebration 1990
Folder 10 Photographs for 125th Anniversary Newsletter multiple dates
Folder 11 Buttons undated
Box  10  
Boxes 1-6 Lantern Slides undated
return to series list