Massachusetts Council of Churches. Records, 1887-Present.

Collection Information

Massachusetts Council of Churches records


Massachusetts Council of Churches




50 linear feet, 56 boxes

Collection ID #:

RG 4833

Conditions Governing Access:


Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the Massachusetts Council of Churches records, RG 4833. The Congregational Library and Archive, Boston, MA.



Processing information:

Originally processed by Anna Koch, 1991

Revision History:

Reprocessed by Jessica Steytler, June 2007
Photographs processed by Konstancja Sinczak, May 2009

Regular additions expected.


Since its beginning as a Sunday School Association in the late-nineteenth century, the Massachusetts Council of Churches has played a leading role in racial reconciliation, interfaith dialogue, and church-state understanding. As a long-time resident of the Congregational House at 14 Beacon Street in Boston, the Council has been closely aligned with the goals and purpose of the Congregational Library.

The Council's archive begins with its originating organization, the Massachusetts Sunday School Association (MSSA), which later became the Massachusetts Council of Religious Education (MCRE). The Massachusetts Council traces its roots to 1902.

The collection was deposited on permanent loan to the Library in January 2007 on the eve of Director Diane Kessler's retirement. The collection had been kept in the Council's offices until that point. They had been organized in 1991 by Anna Koch, and the system she instituted was maintained until the transfer. At that time, Jessica Steytler refined the existing system, although the majority was left intact. The most dramatic change instituted was designating series and sub-series and collating the separate subjects so all similar material would be continuous.

Researchers may note that there is very little beyond board meetings and financial records for anything earlier than the late 1960s. At that time, the then director purged most of the organization's records. While some were recovered, most were not.

For a complete history of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, please review Elizabeth Nordbeck's book, That they may all be one: celebrating a century of ecumenical witness.


Scope and Content

Series I: Parent Organizations.
This series is four record cartons and a static set of material. Because of this, each sub-series is not independently numbered.
  Sub-series 1: Massachusetts Sunday School Association. 1887-1929.
This section includes Meetings, committees, correspondence, financial reports, convention programs, manuscript material. The convention programs include regional town activities and those are listed in alphabetical order.
  Sub-series 2: Massachusetts Council of Religious Education. 1924-1933.
This section includes by-laws, directors and executive meetings, reports, convention programs, correspondence. And religious schools of training information.
  Sub-series 3: Massachusetts Federation of Churches. 1906-1933.
This section includes meetings, reports, by-laws, constitution, correspondence, and programs.
  Sub-series 4: Massachusetts Federation of Women's Church Society. 1935, 1949-1956
This section was originally stored in Series II with the Council’s Program records, however, they really did not fit there at all. Most of the material consists of ledger books that contain minutes. The publications from this section were removed and included with the rest of the publications from this collection.
Series II: Massachusetts Council of Churches (MCC).
  Sub-series 1: Meetings: Annual, Board of Director. 1933-present
Originally the regular meetings were separated out from the annual meetings. They are intermingled after 1990. The series is arranged in chronological order.
  Sub-series 2: Commissions, Committees. 1970s-present
This section is divided in to active and non-active groups. Both sets are arranged in alphabetical order. The current active committees also include inter-faith dialogs. Like the majority of this collection, the bulk of the dates are in the 1960s and 1970s. For all Strategy Action Commission (SAC) records including committee minutes, please see Sub-series 7: Programs. Financial and Investment Committee records are filed in Sub-series 6: Financial Records.
  Sub-series 3: Conferences, Meetings, Events. bulk, 1960s-70s
The first section within this series is an alphabetic listing of conferences. Most of them took place in the 1960s and 70s. The Meetings and Events section, also alphabetically listed, is much more extensive and includes a significant number of activities up to the 1980s and 1990s.
  Sub-series 4: Correspondence. 1967-present
This section is divided into general, incoming, and/or outgoing. The executives listed include: Sprague, Nash, Kessler, Bailey, and Anderson. There are no further subject divisions.
  Sub-series 5: Department Records. 1940-1970
Before the Council downsized, there were a number of departments. Those represented here include: Community Information Center, Research & Strategy, Communication, Evangelism, Institutional, Ministry Pastoral Services Public Relations, Religious Education, Social Relations, Town & Country Church, and Youth Services. They are arranged in this order.
  Sub-series 6: Financial Records. 1934-present
Records include budgets, audits, finance and investment committees, fundraising, and treasurer’s reports. The Finance committee’s records are essentially complete from 1945-present.
  Sub-series 7: Programs . 1973-
The majority of the records in Programs are from the Strategy and Action Commission (SAC). They continue to have an active committee, however for continuity, it’s kept here rather than with Sub-series 2. Major projects include: Tax Reform Program 1972-1978, Health Care Program 1975-1979, Prison Reform 1971-1979, Farmworkers in Massachusetts and United Farmworkers 1973-1974. Another section in Programs includes the Regional Ecumenical Network, 1974-1990.
  Sub-series 8: Subject Files. 1954-
This section is listed in alphabetical order and includes a wide variety of projects and activities.
  Sub-Series 9: Ecumenical Agencies. 1960s-1980s,
The majority of this section is no longer active. The Council used to have stronger ties to the independent local and regional ecumenical agencies, but over time, the quantity of communication has decreased dramatically. The most active part of this section is the Greater Boston Church Leaders' Covenant.
  Sub-Series 10: Photographs, circa 1950-2006
Photographs of the activities of MCC and MCC affiliated groups. New analog additions dating after 2006 are not expected in any great volume due to the favoring of digital technologies. A more in depth guide to the photographs has been appended to this guide.
  Sub-series 11: Publications.
3 boxes of material created by the MCC -- newsletters, informational booklets, speeches, essays.


Due to their length, the Box List and Photograph List are located on separate pages.