Beacon Street Diary

April 9, 2009

From the Constitution of the American Library Association in 1854: Article 2.

The object of the Association shall be to found and perpetuate a Library of Books, Pamphlets, and Manuscripts, and a collection of Portraits, and whatever else shall serve to illustrate Puritan history, and to promote the general interests of Congregationalism.

In 1864 the Congregational Library Association changed its name to the American Congregational Association.

April 7, 2009

I started working on my script for the first session of Treasures which will be held April 22. Although I had been randomly selecting items to exhibit and discuss, I became aware that at least three of the treasures were connected with Native Americans. Obviously, one of the articles will be the Eliot Bible, a translation of the Bible into the Algonquin language. Can you guess what the others may be?

John Eliot was known as the "Apostle to the Indians" and one of the bas-reliefs on the outside of 14 Beacon Street depicts John Eliot preaching to the Indians, Waban's wigwam, Nonantum, 1642.

Join us at noon on April 22 to view this Bible, the first Bible ever published in America, and hear more about the Treasures of the Congregational Library. Free and open to the public. Bring your lunch.



April 2, 2009

The Congregational Library.

With a name like that, it's a natural assumption to think that we are the institutional library (and archive) of a single institution/denomination. As it turns out, though, we have no direct affiliation with any of the modern-day denominations coming out of the old Congregational tradition, including the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, the United Church of Christ, as well as the independent and federated churches.

In fact, our library predates all of those bodies. We were established in 1853, when the largely independent, decentralized Congregational churches were struggling with the prospect of organizing into a structured, national entity. In many ways, the Library is more of a separate historical society; it's owned by a nonprofit organization, the American Congregational Association.

While we do not provide a direct service to any of the various Congregational denominations (all of them have their own separate archives for current material), we do offer services to all of their members. We are in fact the only place in the world where all of those scattered Congregationalists come together into one room -- and we're pretty proud of that fact!

There are other myths that I run across in my work. Look for those in future posts.

March 30, 2009


Until about two weeks ago, I was always a reluctant Facebook user. I joined up in 2007 when a cousin convinced me it would be a great way to keep track of our mutual relatives whom we didn't normally get to talk to. OK, but the format, the signal:noise ratio -- these things kept me from really taking advantage of this tool. I certainly always had reservations with the cavalier measures the Facebook administrators took regarding privacy and their unwillingness to allow users to leave always made me feel like I was living in an Eagles song.

Good Outweighs the Bad -- My tipping points for using Facebook more:

  1. There's the Library's page and its 96 (as of this very moment) fans. Clearly we're reaching people, and I should be involved in providing information to them to keep them interested and make sure the Library's on their radar.
  2. I can write here in Typepad and have it cross-posted on our page, which is very efficient.
  3. For me -- I can look at my homepage and find out what friends and colleagues are doing. Once I hide 99.9% of the quizzes and applications that are listed there, I start to see some good and useful information. Since my husband started using it as his primary social network, that was my major tipping point, and now that I'm in the groove, I have the chance to keep up with not just the classmate from elementary school, Aunt Wendy, but all those archivists that I only see at our regional spring / fall meetings.

Facebook is just a means to an end:

Keeping in touch with colleagues is a goal I've renewed since attending the New England Archivists' spring meeting this past weekend. I somehow forget every time how much I get energized by talking to people in my field. There's always new ideas or opportunities to collaborate, too. While talking to folks, often-times Web 2.0 topics came up, and specifically Facebook. Some were comfortable and active, while others were hesitant as I was just two weeks ago. With that reluctance still fresh in my head, was able to talk about the finer points of the system while remaining sympathetic to the negatives.

I'll probably never be a quiz-taking rah-rah cheerleader for Facebook, but if I can keep the Library's fans a bit more engaged and maintain connections with colleagues, it's worth it.

-Jessica Steytler

March 16, 2009

Join us as we celebrate a new partnership between CCHS and Boston's historic Congregational Library.

Eve LaPlanteOur featured speaker will be author, Eve LaPlante, discussing "Why Congregational History Matters Today". Ms. LaPlante is the author of American Jezabel, a biography of Anne Hutchinson and Salem Witch Judge, a biography of Samuel Sewell.

This event takes place Monday, March 23 at 3:00 p.m. at the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church, 207 Washington Street, Wellesley Hills, MA 0248.

Free and open to the public.

March 13, 2009

Join us at the Hills Church in Wellesley for this workshop with other church librarians.

Claudette Newhall will lead discussions on creating, managing, and promoting your church library/resource center on Saturday, March 21 from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Registration is required. Program fee is $10.

Contact us at 617-523-0470 x 4 or email

March 5, 2009

Join fellow alums from the Records Management class for lunch, networking, and updates on Friday March 20 from 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM at 14 Beacon Street, Boston. Share your projects and find out what your colleagues have been doing with theirs. This is also a time to ask archivist, Jess Steytler, questions that may have come up since the class.

Program fee: $20. Advanced registration required. Email or call 617-523-0470 x 4.

March 4, 2009

Join us at noon on Wednesday, March 18 to hear Dr. Garth M. Rosell discuss his book: The Surprising Work of God : Harold John Ockenga, Billy Graham, and the Rebirth of Evangelicalism. Ockenga was pastor of the Park Street Church and co-founder of Fuller Theological Seminary, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the National Association of Evangelicals, and Christianity Today.

Garth RosellDr. Rosell is professor of Church History at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts and has lectured on a variety of college, university and seminary campuses. His most recent book is a history of Park Street Church which celebrates its two hundredth anniversary this year: Boston's Historic Park Street Church: The Story of an Evangelical Landmark.

Free and open to the public. Please bring your lunch.

February 24, 2009

There is still time to register for the workshop on Records Management & Preservation to be held February 27 from 9:30-12:30.

Please contact Susan Thomas at 617-523-0470 x 4 or by email
The fee is $10.00.

Archivist, Jessica Steytler covers basic archival arrangement, writing and maintaining records management policies, preservation and digital issues. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in discussions with other record keepers.