Beacon Street Blog

September 18, 2009

In 1921 the National Council (the national body of Congregationalists) received a report on "Ordained Women, Church Assistants, and Lay Workers". The report was commissioned in 1919, to "secure information" about the number of Congregational women ministers, their "standing and efficiency", and whether more female clergy were needed.

In some ways, the report was astonishing -- in other ways it was not. According to the Yearbook for 1919, out of a total of 5695 Congregational ministers, only 67 (or 1.2%) were women. Only 18 of that 67 were pastors of churches; all of the rest were either unclassified or serving as church assistants of various types, often alongside their husbands. "So far as your Commission has knowledge," the report concluded, "no scandal or seriously unpleasant incident has grown out of the ordination of women in our denomination. The service which these women are rendering is for the most part a quiet, inconspicuous service and one to which they appear to have been called." The Commission did not envision this small number ever becoming a trend: "Our ordained women are too few in number and too modest or at least inconspicuous in their form of service to appear at present to offer our denomination any serious problem."

Instead, the Commission urged support for the Congregational League of Church Assistants, organized in 1915. By 1919 it had nearly 300 members, both men and women, serving as education directors, pastors' assistants, church secretaries, church missionaries, visitors, and social workers. The early form of this work was through Deaconess Institutes, which trained women for work in hospitals and churches; these women sometimes, but not always wore distinctive dress. To this work the Council gave its "hearty approval."



September 17, 2009

I'm headed over to the Simmons GSLIS intern fair, which is held every fall. The program has an archive track -- one that I went through myself. The two primary classes, 438 and 440 require an internship as part of the class. Looking back at my time at Simmons, the internships were the best practical things about my education.


They started having the fair in 2001, so almost the entire time I've been working at the library. I really enjoy the break in my routine to see colleagues and meet the latest group of students. I find that most who attend are new to the program and not sure what they want to do with their long term goals. That's a good reason to go to the fair, for sure. So, if you're in the archive track at Simmons and were wondering if you should go, perhaps you didn't even hear about it, I strongly recommend walking around. I even have chocolate this time. It's from 12:30-2:30.


September 16, 2009

If you're interested in older Congregational churches, you may want to take a look at the PDF copy of An inventory of the records of the particular (Congregational) churches of Massachusetts gathered 1620-1805 by Harold Field Worthley (former director of the Library). This work published in 1970 details the extent and locations of Colonial-era church records. This file is very large and will take time to download. The book is arranged by town name in alphabetical order. Historians and genealogists will find this useful.


September 14, 2009

I mentioned earlier, that I'm working on my records management class in an online format. Well, as it happened, I was doing some meta/organizing around the office. As we prepare to do half a dozen small things with our church records microfilm/digitizing project, I labeled these files over the past two years, I didn't take into consideration the long-term view. But now we're at a point when I refer to all these files somewhat regularly making sure that we're all set as we microfilm and scan more. It's a good thing I usually use pencil and almost never use labels when creating these files as this photo montage will demonstrate:

Please note -- you may click on any picture to see a larger version --

Here we have the initial set of files and all the material I needed to add into it with an artfully arranged pencil and eraser:

Naming-protocol-example (2)

a close up of the file names

Naming-protocol-example (1)

Next step: clean up the work space. I like to use this open ended Princeton File for small stacks of files like this:

Naming-protocol-example (3)

And here's how I chose to relabel.

Naming-protocol-example (7)

This naming protocol will blend with my existing collection files (each collection ought have a file, so I have close to 1000). They won't be added to that part of my records. They'll stay separated while they're all so active. This is why I added a bit of extra information that gives me a quick reference to each collection's status on microfilming, digitizing/scanning, and so on. 

Naming-protocol-example (5)

That last bit really is a bit much for my usual labeling. I went over the top since I was in a hyper-organized mode when I re-did it. It should make keeping track of all the stages much easier, though. Sometimes you don't want to sift through email and wiki pages to get an answer. You just want to open the file drawer and know.

If this sort of lesson was particularly useful and you'd like to know more, sign up for a records management for church collections seminar. The next one will be in October. Check out our events page for more details. If you're not local, we will be offering my webinar/ screencast version starting next year for our members. Stay tuned!


September 14, 2009

One of the realities of my work flow is that I loathe doing the last 5% of any project. It usually takes a ridiculously long time to get done in comparison to the first 5-50%. Another reality is that when one acquires material from a church that has recently closed, more often than not they will find a missing cache of records that need to be integrated. I caveat of this truism is that they'll usually find it after you organize what you've been given.

With both these issues at hand, I can give a qualified "I'm done" with the Hyde Park First Church collection. I just this moment finished the last of the folder/ box list for the guide. Since I have confirmed with my liaison from the church, I already know that there's a stash of the most recent material not at the library (in my office). However, I have done all I can do. My compromise is that I won't put permanent labels on the boxes or publish the guide, which would just have to be redone when the last does come in. If anyone wishes to use the collection, however, let me know.


September 11, 2009

A while back I fielded a query from a New Hampshire pastor about the origins of "rally day". It's a tradition of sorts among many local churches even today, and at least in my experience, it often involves a big tent, some lively music, and maybe a picnic. Lots of churches, especially in New England I think, tend to coast over the summer and welcome their people back in the fall.

I'd never thought much about where rally day came from, and the query sent me up into the Library stacks for an answer. I guessed (rightly, it turned out) that it had something to do with Sunday schools, and that it probably originated at the turn of the last century -- there was just something about the whole idea of a rally day that brought to mind ice cream socials and oompah music, pageants and plays.

One book on How to Conduct a Sunday School (1905) noted that "This festival is rapidly growing in favor. It usually comes at the end of the summer break-up, and is used as a means of rallying the forces again for the work of fall and winter. When a general is preparing for a battle he is said to rally his forces. When a sick person begins to recover it is said of him that he his rallying. When a bookbinder brings together in one place the different sections of a book to be bound into one he is said to be rallying the book. All of these phrases may be applied to the Sunday-school work; we are rallying our forces for the great campaign of the fall and winter."

This author suggested holding the rally on the last Sunday of September, with "strong, vigorous" music and perhaps an outside speaker. The main event is a "grand review", a procession of all the Sunday-school students, from the cradle roll to the senior class, marching up to the platform and dropping off their offering envelopes in a barrel, a small plaster of Paris egg, or one time, a real pumpkin. Rally day, he enthused, "is one of the happiest days of the year."

Another book about The Sunday-School of Today, published in 1911, described the popularity of "Rally Day Devices", including pins, badges, post-cards, buttons, flags, ribbon hangs, and the like. "The ethical value of such traps is doubtful," he warned, for "even the practical value as an allurement wears off after a year or so." But when given out with a "personal touch", the Devices were genuinely useful. "Post-cards are not only the rage and craze at present," he admitted, "but they serve as an effective free advertisement scheme, since so many, other than the direct recipient, are apt to read and profit by them."

Sending out post-cards, personal notes, and typed invitations were not enough, however. "No practical business man is content with sending out a catalogue or one letter after a reader has been caught by an attractive advertisement and written for information." A good Rally Day system provided for instant and regular follow up to keep students coming to class.

Eventually, Rally Day became more of a church event than a Sunday school one, and also seems to have lost much of that old competitive edge. People are welcomed back to church without a word, though I doubt that the church leaders of a century ago would have approved of a summer vacation from church-going -- a three-month break from Sunday school was bad enough.

The rallying image is still a useful one, especially because the meaning can vary so much. In some cases, it’s the troops getting ready for the next campaign -- in others a listless patient gathering strength to rise off a sickbed.

- Peggy

September 9, 2009

If you missed this on today's, we thought it was worth sharing: Diversity at Rest.

Additionally, the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists is holding its annual meeting and conference on October 24 in Framingham.

September 8, 2009
The cover of a Grafton First Church ledger

Over the past few months we have had over 80,000 pages of text scanned either through the Internet Archive program, or for our church records microfilm/scan project. When we got started on figuring out what should be scanned, it felt like we'd never get results, but there we are now, rolling along at a very prodigious rate.

Given how far we've come with this work and considering how many new readers we've gotten over the past 6 months, it seemed like a good time to give some exposition about this church records program.

About two years ago in '07, the library launched a program in which we sought out 17th and 18th century Massachusetts church records. Some motivation for doing this stemmed from Connecticut centralizing their records in their state archives thanks to a WPA project seventy years ago. Massachusetts doesn't have that, but ideally it should. When we launched our project, we hoped start down that path but with a modern twist. We would microfilm significant colonial records for preservation and store them together at the library, but we would also have a modern access option by creating a digital copy for the public to use.

Our director, Peggy, teamed up with CL ally, Jeff Cooper, to acquire the documents. Shortly thereafter, we made a connection with Ken Minkema and the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale. The JEC's online collection is stunning, and our project dove-tailed nicely. When the library got a guided tour of the site, we were particularly struck with how the original manuscripts had side by side comparison to the transcription. Working with Ken and his staff has been very promising, although our library staff is dealing with a steep learning curve. We chose the smallest collection for our beta testing. We hope that migrating our copies to the JEC will get easier after we learn first hand what the parameters are.

What collections are in this project, you ask? The earliest churches from these Massachusetts towns: Bradford, Franklin, Grafton, Hanover, Mattapoisett, Middleboro, Oxford, Rowley, and Natick, plus recent addtions yet to have any processing from Falmouth and Wenaham.

Some additional material we've had scanned that meshes with the church records are the Gideon Hawley diaries, and our former librarian, Harold Worthley's book, which documents early Massachusetts church record locations. Hal's inventory has always been an important reference work for the library and researchers. It has been instrumental in establishing the path we've taken with this project. An interesting side note is that Hal is currently transcribing the Hawley diaries. We'll be working on making his work and the originals available after the transcription is ready.

Hawley III Cover-sm
Cover to one of the Gideon Hawley diaries

September 8, 2009

I recently came across this article regarding the history of The Congregationalist and Recorder. We have these titles in our collection which can be located in our online catalog and we have a title map that details the mergers and changes in the titles.

From The Congregationalist and Recorder, May 24, 1867, p. 82

The Boston Recorder was founded in Jan. 1816 by Dea. Nathaniel Willis, and Mr. Sidney Morse was its first editor. In 1817, Rev. Richard S. Storrs of Braintree, took the place of Mr. Morse, as editor. In 1825, Mr. Gerald Hallock took the place of Mrs. Storrs, bringing with him the Telegraph (which had been published but a single year) and became equal proprietor with Mr. Willis. In 1826, Mr. Hallock sold his half of the united paper to Rev. Asa Rand. In 1830, Mr. Rand disposed of his interest to Mr. Willis, who employed Mr. Calvin E. Stowe as assistant editor. In about a year Mr. Stowe retired and Mr. E. C. Tracy took his place, which he held until 1834, when Rev. Joseph Tracy assumed the editorship. In 1837, Mr. Tracy retired and Dea. Willis edited the paper, with the assistance of special contributors, prominent among who was Rev. Parsons Cooke. In 1844, Dea. Willis sold the paper to Rev. Martin Moore, who received the assistance of Rev. Dr. Storrs, Rev. E. D. Moore, Rev. A. W. McClure and J. F. Moore, Esq. in its management. In 1849, The New England Puritan which was started in 1840 by Rev. Dr. Parsons Cooke was united with the Recorder, under the name of the Puritan Recorder, the consolidated sheet being published by Moore, Woodbridge & Co., under the joint editorship of Messrs. Cooke and Woodbridge. In 1853, Rev. S. H. Riddle purchased Mr. Woodbridge’s interest and succeeded him as office editor. About this time the subscription list of the Hartford Congregationalist was purchased and its existence merged in that of the Puritan Recorder. In 1858, Mr. Riddle retired and Rev. N. Munroe of Bradford took his place, the paper reviving the old name and style of the Boston Recorder. Subsequently, Rev. E. P. Marvin, D.D. purchased the interest of the former proprietors and became sole owner and editor, which relation he has sustained up to the present time.

The Congregationalist was started in May, 1849. Its first proprietors were Dea. Galen James and Dea. Edward W. Fay, and its first editors, Rev. Edward Beecher D.D., Rev. Joseph Haven Jr., Rev. I. N. Tarbox; Rev. E. D. Moore being office editor, and bringing to it the subscription list of the Boston Recorder owned by him. In Dec. 1850, Mr. Haven retired to accept a Professorship at Amherst, and Rev. Dr. Storrs of Braintree took his place. In 1851, Rev. Mr. Taxbox became Secretary of the American Education Society, and Rev. H. M. Dexter took his place. In the same year the Christian Times was merged in the Congregationalist. In Dec. 1853, Dr. Beecher retired, and Rev. A. L. Stone became editor in his place. In Jan. 1856, the old firm of Galen James & Co., was dissolved by the death of Dea. Fay, the junior partner, and Messrs. Richardson and Greene were admitted as junior partners. Mr. Richardson assumed the office editorship; and, Dr. Storrs and Dr. Stone retiring, Mr. Dexter undertook the general charge of the paper.

The arrangement of editing and publishing continued unchanged for ten years, until the 1st Jan., 1866, when Mr. Dexter retied, and the paper since that time has been under the general charge of Mr. Richardson, with the assistance of Mr. Samuel Burnham, and the cooperation of several clergymen. On the first of the present month the firm of Galen James & Co., was dissolved by the retirement of the Senior partner and the new publishing firm of W. L. Greene and Co., took its place, the four partners in which are Mr. Greene, Mr. Richardson, Rev. H. M Dexter and Rev. Horace James.

It will thus be seen that the Congregationalist and Recorder is the present representative and residual legatee of the Boston Recorder, and Telegraph, of the New England Puritan and Puritan

Recorder; and of the Boston Reporter, Christian Times, and Congregationalist, not to mention four other journals whose lists have been absorbed by the Congregationalist.

There were last week issued 19,440 copies of the Congregationalist, and 7,776 copies of the Boston Recorder — making the united circulation of the two papers 27,216. Subtracting common subscribers and the total of one exchange list, the Congregationalist and Recorder commences, this week, its career with an issue of nearly 27,000 copies.

September 3, 2009

I think we all know it can be a bit dangerous to clean and file in one's office. I end up getting very random bits and pieces that are found around the library and need a better place for storage. One of the those things this time included a calendar from 1962 from the National Association -- "Congregational Contributions to our Singing Faith" -- a 4 x 5.5" card -- Here's what's on it:

1640 — The Bay Psalm Book, first book printed in British North America.
1707 — Isaac Watts publishes Hymns and Spiritual Songs.
1748 — Isaac Watts father of English hymnody died.
1751 — Philip Doddridge author of many hymns died.
1800 — Timothy Dwight edits a psalm book Dwight's Watts.
1817 — Andrew Reed edits a Hymn Book.
1830 — Ray Palmer wrote "My Faith Looks Up to Thee."
1833 — Leonard Bacon "O God Beneath Thy Guiding Hand."
1836 — Josiah Conder edits The Congregational Hymn Book.
1841 — Lowell Masons edits Carmina Sacra.
1853 — George Rawson compiled The Leeds Hymn Book.
1855 — Henry Ward Beecher edits Plymouth Collection.
1857 — Elias Nason edits The Congregational Hymn Book for the Service of the Sanctuary.
1877 — Josiah Booth organist at Park Chapel, Crouch end.
1879 — Washington Gladden wrote "O Master Let Me Walk with Thee."
1887 — G. S. Barrett edits The Congregationalist Church Hymnal.
1888 — Ernest W. Shurtleff wrote "Lead On O King Eternal."
1889 — John Hunger edits Hymns of Faith and Life.
1897 — The Hymnal for use in Congregational Churches.
1908 — John Oxenham wrote "In Christ there is no East or West"
1912 — The Pilgrim Hymnal, first of the modern hymnals.
1913 — Edward Dwight Eaton edits The Hymnal of Praise.
1916 — The Congregational Hymnary
1916 — John Wright Buckham "O God Above the Drifting Years."
1920 — Allen Eastman Cross wrote "More Light Shall Break from Out Thy Word."
1935 — The Pilgrim Hymnal published.
1939 — Henry Hallam Tweety edits Christian Worship and Praise.
1940 — Lee Clair Libby wrote "The Pilgrim Spirit."
1951 — Congregational Praise published in England.
1954 — Companion to Congregational Praise published.
1958 — The Pilgrim Hymnal published.

September 2, 2009

WellsEvent06.18.09 (10)

This year, we're adding a new wrinkle to our brown bag lunches and our existing tour programs: a series about Boston's Congregational past conducted by Donna La Rue, a local church historian, gravestone researcher, and expert tour guide. She has planned a three-part presentation on the history of the city’s thirteen Congregational churches, discussing their known buildings, worship practices and music, as well as their ministers' and congregants' homesites and gravestones. Donna will also tell their stories about their neighbors: the Baptist, Quaker, Anglican, Presbyterian, Huguenot, (secret) Catholic, and later Unitarian, Universalist, and Swedenborgian congregations of the pre-Revolutionary period.

October 14, 2009 -- Walking tour of downtown Boston, from the Common to the Old Town House

February 10, 2010 -- Illustrated lecture about Congregational Boston in the colonial era

April 14, 2010 -- Walking tour of the Congregational North End of Boston

Both tours and the illustrated lecture are open to the public and will begin at the Congregational Library at noon. There is no cost for lecture, which is part of our brown-bag lunch series. The walking tours require an advance registration (617-523-0470 x3) and $5.00/person.

Donna La Rue holds degrees from Ohio State University, Lesley College, and has done doctoral level research on "The Arts for Then and Now". She is widely known as a researcher, writer, and tour guide in the Boston area, and brings a wealth of knowledge on American colonial church art and architecture. For more information on other tours, please consult her webpage:

September 2, 2009

Hello, your friendly neighborhood archivist is here (a day late), fully caffeinated and experiencing dangerous levels of optimism today.

First, some background that's not tech: Some of you may know that I teach a records management and preservation class through the library — it's specifically targeted at church folk responsible for caring for the congregation's historical documents. Congregationalists being the independent creatures they are have the burden of being by default responsible for documents that date back to the church's founding (around here that means as old as mid-1600s — no joke). There's no specific rules from on high/ denominational HQ to say they must do XYZ, so I created this class to help these visible saints out. The problem is, I'm only one person. The class is great, but unless the historian/archivist/clerk can attend my class they're somewhat out of luck. My booklet does help, but there's nothing quite like getting the full show. This leads me to the tech part.

Tech — starting out: We do live in a gloriously tech-intensive world, so eventually the mandate to create my records management class in an online format could not be ignored. This project is no small feat. First you have to pick out your format for the class, and there are many options. I chose to do what I refer to as a 21st century filmstrip — aka, a screencast. This means I take my powerpoint slide I use for my live class, record my commentary over the slides, and some live web explanations (well, live at the time of the recording). That's great, but how the heck does one record this?

Software options: It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that there's specific screencast software out there. I had thought I'd have to get video editing or… anyway, it was frustrating having to comb through the deluge of options, but I have settled on Camtasia. Currently I'm trying out via the 30 day trial, but it's just about a guarantee I'll be getting a copy, probably before the end of the month.

Scripts: I foolishly believed I could just set up the slide show and talk over it with no script. Oh, no. Mistake. In order to not repeat myself and not say UM constantly, I ended up talking in a very stilted manner. There's always the fear of running on, forgetting a part, or repeating parts accidentally.

Presentation slides: I had also thought I'd just run through the original slides without much in the way of visual elaboration, which also turned out to be untrue after I finished writing down everything for the scripts. After all, I want to try to keep my audience engaged since a recording isn't as engaging as a live talk. With so many new slides, I ended up adding "stage directions" in my scripts so I knew exactly what goes where and when. I hope that with all that extra meta, recreating the videos from just scripts and slides will be easier

I've only done the audio for the introduction so far. I'm still sort of freaked out by the magnitude of technical bits that go into this. My preferences seem to be a bit backwards from how Camtasia designers seem to think one will work a presentation (video created then audio on top — I prefer to do the audio then video). But, I'm on the path. I can't back out now. Peggy has asked a few times if we can show off a piece at the board meeting in less than 2 weeks. I keep saying "maybe". If it's good enough! The big goal is to have all of them done by the new year. We'll be launching them in our Members Only section, which is still under construction.

Wish me luck. If you have any particular commentary to me on this, drop me an email. Facebook and blog comments can get to me eventually, but it's slow.


August 30, 2009

Sometimes you need to just throw things away. In my profession, this really goes with the territory. I have spent countless times agonizing over if this or that minutiae is really going to be historically relevant. In today's chores, it was my own minutiae that eventually getting the axe: little notes to myself on projects, reference, cataloging, and the like. Moments like that I need to remember that only about 10% of what we create is worth keeping, at least most of the time.

The easy part of this purge was reviewing my tech books. The offending objects dated back to the early to mid 1990s. I am pretty certain that an Access book for dummies from that time will not be helpful. I would be looking for online tutorials before I opened this kind of book. Now I have more room on my shelves for the rest of my reference books.

So let me assure you all: you can't keep everything.


The obsolete tech -- Check out that floppy disk!

August 27, 2009

QuintOne of my favorite nineteenth-century Congregationalists is Alonzo Quint. I loved his name almost immediately, and when I saw his picture I was genuinely enamored. He had wonderful thick muttonchops and small iron-rimmed spectacles, the exact image of a bookish Victorian churchman, which of course he was. (He was also a long-time resident of Dover, New Hampshire, and represented the town in the state legislature -- an intriguing connection for me as my husband begins a stint as interim pastor in the First Church there.) Alonzo Quint was also a Civil War chaplain and sometime pastor of churches, author of the 1865 Burial Hill Declaration; he's probably best known, however, as the statistician of Congregationalism. Alonzo Quint was the denomination’s "statistical secretary" from 1856-1881, the driving force behind the compilation and publication of church membership data that’s so invaluable to historians today. And not surprisingly, Quint was an early and fervent supporter of the Congregational Library.

After he died in 1896, the Congregationalist published some of Quint's best-loved articles, under the title Common-Sense Christianity. They are a joy to read, especially as a window into the culture of late-Victorian Congregational churches. Heres a snippet from a piece entitled "Little Changes Which May Be Noted", dated March 27, 1890:

Some changes are visible in the parts and order of our public worship. People used to stand during the "long prayer," but now they remain sitting or bow their heads. In the last hymn in the afternoon all the people used to rise, turn their backs upon the pulpit, and steadfastly gaze upon the performing choir. This irreverence has now ceased, perhaps somewhat because the organ is now often found at the other end of the church, and frequently absurdly placed directly behind the minister. The pew doors rattle less during the benediction, because there are fewer pew doors; nor do men dive for their hats as they once did; nor do the men now go out in a body into the vestibule and wait for the women, as was once the inflexible law.

Quint went on to muse that the practice of waiting for the women in the vestibule was likely a holdover from frontier days, when the men-folk left the pews first to make sure the coast was clear for the women to leave the church. "Many a custom lasts after its reasons have ceased to be," he sighed. All of this, of course, must have happened before the invention of coffee hour, which now requires a select group of women to muscle their way to the door and set to work frantically laying out cookies and donut holes before the men and children descend en masse, blissfully unconscious of dangers they must no longer face.


August 25, 2009

This summer has been dominated by new items we've been able to send to the Internet Archive or put up on our website. This is a trend that is going to continue. We have started to run into the "problem" of what to send to be scanned next, even. Never fear, we haven't run out of ideas next. Our last set that we've integrated into our existing digital collections section are our ever-popular Yearbooks and the lesser known, but equally useful Vinton books.

For more of an explanation of what those two resources are about, staff member, Robin elaborates:

Every organization has its records and statistics. In the case of American Congregational churches during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, those records were kept by a succession of national organizations and published in yearbooks. They contain lists of active ministers, necrologies (obituaries) of recently deceased ministers, church statistics, and the denominations' annual reports. In addition to their preceding titles, we now have digital copies of the Yearbook of the Congregational and Christian Churches (1929-39), and the Yearbook of the Congregational Christian Churches (1940-60) available online. For the full list of titles in this series, see our Congregational Yearbooks page.

We also now have digital copies of John Vinton's biographies of missionaries from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. They are a valuable source of information for historians and genealogists alike. Spanning five continents and a century of work, more than two thousand missionaries traveled with the ABCFM, and often with two or three generations of their families. They founded schools, built hospitals, and chronicled the various societies they encountered. Vinton (and later researchers who updated his work) compiled the itineraries of these industrious people. These volumes have never been published, but now they are available to everyone.

To see what other digital resources we offer, click here.

August 23, 2009

PAHR logo

The New England Archivists' president, Peter Carini, sent out a call for help this week regarding House bill HR 2256. This stimulus bill would provide critical funding -- $2,621,563 -- to New England's archives and millions to other states/regions.

All this money will maintain projects in dire need of support and save a number of my colleagues' jobs -- and believe me, several are already out and looking for work. The PAHR site explains what needs to be done; I wrote up my own version of their template letter after getting Peter's note. Our deadline on this is September 8, so please do write today. Let's safeguard our history and the archive community.

-Your very own archivist- Jessica.

August 20, 2009

Recently I ran across a survey about worship practices in Congregational churches, published in 1889. The study was the work of a committee appointed by the National Council of Congregational Churches to inquire about changes taking place, and (they probably hoped) to rectify some problems.

The committee received back some 1500 questionnaires, about one-third of those sent out. Most of these were from larger and more urban churches with more formal public worship than smaller rural ones; even so, the results suggest that Congregationalists were still demonstrably fixed in their tradition and wary of "rote formulas" -- many of which, of course, (the Gloria Patri, Lord's Prayer, and Doxology) have become fixed elements of so-called traditional worship today.

The basic form of the service was pretty much unchanged from the 17th century: an invocation, a hymn, reading of Scripture, prayer, "notices", another hymn, the sermon, a prayer, and then the benediction. "But upon this parent stem there have been grafted many additions," the committee reported. Actually fairly few late-nineteenth century Congregational churches (538, or about one-third of those returning a survey) repeated the Lord’s Prayer together, and even fewer (360) sang the Gloria Patri. A majority, but not all (941) took up a collection during the service. "Whie the offerings are being gathered, it will be helpful for the minister to recite appropriate passages of Scripture; and as the collectors come simultaneously before the pulpit, and stand there with the offerings still in their hands, a brief prayer for God's willing givers, and on the work their gift is to forward, will deepen the religious impression.") More of them sang the Doxology (913), but far fewer (49) read the Apostles Creed at the morning service or used written prayers (59).

Certainly non-Congregational formalisms like chanting, the use of quartets and paid choirs, and unison prayers were becoming increasingly popular in wealthier churches. But the committee report urged a middle way: "A few of our ministers, chiefly in New England, are using occasionally written forms of prayer, and, as they may think, with excellent results. They think they find in them a chaste dignity, a touching tenderness, and a power to quicken the devotional spirit, not easily secured when all the prayers are extemporaneous. The large majority of our churches and pastors, on the other hand, appear to feel that the freshness and fervor of spontaneous prayer are more conducive to spirituality. It is possible, however," the report concluded, "that the future may see a combination of the two methods in many churches."

It's easy to imagine Congregational forebears recoiling in absolute horror at quartets and chants and creeds and rote prayers. They fought a lot of hard battles with the Church of England to free themselves from those very practices. But I don't think they'd be opposed in principle to changes in the worship service. After all, the basic idea behind the Congregational Way was freedom from external forms, especially when they threatened to overwhelm the subtle, quiet work of the Spirit in the lives of ordinary people and in the life of the community.


August 18, 2009

Newtonville Church

We are very pleased to announce that the Central Congregational Church of Newton Legacy Trust , which was established to carry on the deceased church's memory, has awarded the Congregational Library with grant of $5,000.

When we applied for funds earlier this year, we hoped to get support our most important projects within our digital program: the church records project. This task involves identifying significant churches in Massachusetts with 16th and 17th century documents. Since these records are almost always kept at the individual churches, we collect the ledgers in order to be microfilmed and digitized. The microfilm fulfills our preservation mandate while digitizing answers the access needs. Thanks to our partnership with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale, those digital copies are presented through their site.

Those who follow the Library's activities may already know that have also partnered with the Internet Archive and its local representatives at the Boston Public Library. With their help we have over 100 titles in their database. This funding can also keep us afloat with this as well.

Both the microfilming and particularly scanning are very costly ventures and we depend upon the CCC Legacy Trust and other similar organization's generosity to make this all happen. Thank you again, to their board. Any person or organization who is interested in supporting this or other library projects should contact our director, Peggy Bendroth.

For those interested in knowing more about the Central church, the archive holds their records, which are open to the public for research.

August 17, 2009

While Rick Hartley was here with the CFTS seminar, he donated a copy of his dissertation, Re-Discovering Intentional Use of the Church Covenant as the Basis for Self-Identity in a Congregational Church Community, to the Library. This dissertation is the capstone of his work for his degree of Doctor of Ministry. Congratulations, Rick!

The Library has collected many other dissertations that contribute to our ability to serve our community, preserve our history,and continue our work. The Library has both purchased and had dissertations donated by authors. Three other dissertations in the Library are:

Africans, Cherokees, and the ABCFM Missionaries in the Nineteenth Century: An unusual Story of Redemption by Gnimbin A. Quattara

That Obnoxious Dogma : Future Probation and the Struggle to Construct an American Congregationalist identity by Sharon A.Taylor

and Ministerial Training in Eighteenth-century New England by Mary Latimer Gambrell.


To find a dissertations in the online catalog, use the search terms: thesis ph d


August 14, 2009

I spent some time this past week doing some reading about memory. It’s a natural topic for a historian, as we are pretty much forced to rely on other people's recollections of the past for our material -- but as psychologists are quick to remind us, human memory is always partial, subjective, and fleeting. Studies show over and over how easy it is for us to become absolutely convinced of an event or an image in our own past -- a red dress you wore the first day of school, a field trip to an ice cream factory -- if we are told enough times that it is true.

But as psychologists tell us, memory is necessary; it is what makes us truly human. And in a very obvious sense this is true: you cannot know who you are unless you know where you have come from. As the mother of two adopted children, one of whom has recently reunited with her birthmom, I think about this truth every day.

But psychological studies show that memory works the other way too. People (and I would say institutions) with a strong sense of their own identity connect most powerfully with their past; those with a weaker sense of self are more trapped in the eternal present. Many of us can probably testify that without an overarching narrative to give our recollections some order and meaning, they are a chaotic jumble, a random series of unrelated events. I would argue that it takes a certain amount of courage and confidence for a person -- or a religious denomination or an educational organization -- to deal with memories in a clear and constructive way. It's not surprising, in a sense, that most modern people prefer to live in a world where everything is "new and improved", rather than old and time-tested.

Modern people tend to view memories as fleeting and untrustworthy, and they often eye them suspiciously. A person who remembers too much is urged to "let it go", to live in the present, move beyond morbid concerns with times gone by, stop wallowing. The advice is often well-taken, but it's also true that a thoughtful and sustained encounter with the past, both for individual people and for human institutions, deepens, enriches, and complicates our sense of the present, and restores our capacity to deal with the future.



August 13, 2009

Discover some of the treasures (not just books) in this series that highlights the history, significance, and provenance of rare and special items in our collections on Wednesday, September 23 at 12 noon.

Treasures on display will include: the Chained Bible: Commentary of Strabo, a portrait of George Whitefield, the four bas reliefs on the from of the building, a bust of Edwards Park, books from the Stubbs Collection, and the chief poetical works of Tu Fu.

Bring your lunch and eat while Claudette Newhall, Associate Librarian, acquaints you with the stories of these items and more.

August 12, 2009

The wonderful "loaders" at Internet Archive just completed digitizing the Congregational and Christian Yearbooks from 1928-1960. We will be linking these on our website soon. You can find them now by searchng Internet Archive.

Please also check our online catalog for full text links to other books by using the term Internet Archive. We've added more Christian Church and Congregational materials.

August 7, 2009

Here at the Congregational Library, where the Congregational Christian Historical Society has long been housed in a building owned by the American Congregational Association, it's a little hard to imagine that 75 years ago, that the very name "Congregational" was up for grabs. But in fact, the denomination seriously considered changing its brand name.

The setting explains some of the story. In June 1934 the merger between the Congregationalists and the smaller "Christian" denomination was only a few years old. The two had united in 1931, a much larger body of Congregationalists (some 5700 churches) and a smaller one of Christians (1300). Everyone was on best behavior as two sets of committees and councils and task forces began to combine into a single entity.

Unfortunately, to the slight consternation of some, the new denomination’s original name was the General Council of the Congregational and Christian Churches -- a very long name that also suggested a distinction between Congregationalism and historic Christianity. According to the minutes for the 1934 denominational meeting in Oberlin, Ohio, the Executive Committee was "requested to canvass the field for a shorter name for the church and recommended a new designation for the same at the next biennial session." The name "Pilgrim Church" was put into consideration.

Some semi-serious discussion ensued. A Connecticut woman, writing to the Advance in September 1934, suggested "Fellowship Church" instead of "Pilgrim", as it might have more appeal outside of New England. In 1936, the Georgia delegation to the General Council meeting in South Hadley, Massachusetts, raised the possibility of "The United Christian Church (Congregational and Christian)", with the understanding that "the parenthetical part of the title would be dropped and the name stand as in the first line." This is not the origin of the UCC, but it is interesting that in 1957 the Congregational Christian and Evangelical and Reformed Churches very nearly did just that.

But the General Council as a whole was less interested in following up on the name question -- with an economic depression and a looming world war on the doorstep, enthusiasm for the project declined. At their next meeting in 1936, they declared themselves unable to find any denominational title they could all agree upon -- perhaps not the best state of affairs for a newly-launched merger, but certainly an understandable one.

So why is this small and inconclusive story important? I think it tells something interesting about Congregationalism, and its surprisingly loose connection with its own past and its own traditions. For all of the conversations we try to generate around here about the importance of history, especially as a source of church vitality, one bottom line reality we face is that most modern-day heirs of the Congregational Way don’t draw much identity from their past. It’s not surprising that Congregationalists were one of the last to form a historical society—a full century after the Presbyterians organized theirs in 1852.

And so the question continues: how will modern-day Congregationalists develop a meaningful connection with their past?

-Peggy Bendroth

August 6, 2009

The next workshop for records management class for churches has been confirmed for October 21. We will also be offering a new technologies in church settings workshop earlier that month on the third. Please review our workshop schedule for full details, including registration.

August 4, 2009

Typing Our readers may have noticed that we have been trying to maintain our blog posts a bit more often. Like when most things grow organically, after we had been going for a few months at this pace, we thought about how we want to present things a bit more and we've come up with the following notion (subject to change as we see fit, of course), but here's our current schedule and themes:

Monday -- Physical Resources. We'll talk about recent acquisitions, the newly cataloged, book reviews, guides that are now available, and our current projects. In keeping with that theme, we posted about book repair yesterday.

Tuesday -- Technology. We will discuss changes to our web site, digital collections, links to tech resources/essays. In today's case, the meta of the blog, for example.

Wednesday -- day off

Thurdsay -- Programming. If we have a library program or an activity, we will announce or remind. Links to others' activities fit into this category, too.

Friday -- History/ guest blogger. Our on-going description of the library's treasures and their significance will feature at the end of the week. Any history about the library or about topics by/about/of interest to Congregationalists. To keep things fresh, we are compiling a list of guest bloggers who will write a short post about any number of topics: a current project, a significant event, group, or person, or their experience at the library. We are still expanding our list of guest bloggers, so email Jessica to discuss this further if you are interested.

August 3, 2009

Technically speaking, I should say "containing books" in the title. Last week I spent most of my time making phase boxes for damaged books.


Like many other librarians and archivists, I learned how to make phase boxes in school -- book repair class at Simmons and taught by the fine folks at the Northeast Document Conservation Center. It was always a favorite class. There's something very gratifying about turning a red-rotted book into a pristine surface -- at least on the most superficial levels.


There's something rather zen about taking the measurements, cutting, scoring -- all the while trying to get the most out of a 32" x 40" sheet of card stock. The skill has a "ride a bike" quality to it. I was a bit wobbly at first, but after the third one I wasn't making big mistakes and by the tenth I started remembering similar measurements and had remembered the nit-picky efficiency tactics.


We can't put every damaged book into a phase box, but we do what we can.


July 30, 2009

A memorial service for Linda L. Roberts will be held on Thursday, August 6 at 10:00 AM at Bethany Congregational Church, 18 Spear St., Quincy, MA. A collation will follow. Donations may be made in Linda's memory to the Congregational Library.

Linda was an employee of the library from March 1989 to August 2002. Tom Boates, past Chairman of the ACA Board, remembers Linda: "She was a warm and welcoming presence at the library desk. We are grateful for her contributions then and now."

All are welcome to attend. For directions see the church website. The church is accessible via public transportation on the MBTA red line.

July 30, 2009

We are beginning to schedule events both at the library and off site for the fall. We plan to hold several Brown Bag Lunches including one in November spotlighting our Pilgrim Treasures. Our workshops on Tech 2.0 for church members and on Records Management will be offered. Peggy will lead her seminar on the History of Congregationalism. Additionally, we will host workshops for church librarians and church members writing histories for their church's anniversary.

Library tours and Congregational walking tours of Boston are available on request.

If you have program or event suggestions, please contact us.

July 28, 2009

In 1902 the Congregational Library purchased over 6,000 books for $5,500. These books were from the library of Bishop William Stubbs, a working scholar who was both a leading historian and a high official in the Church of England. The books purchased, mainly in Latin, included works relating to the Church of England, its progeny, and English history. It took the Assistant Librarian three years to catalog these volumes. The collection is shelved in Rare Book Room. A portion of this collection has been sold to Yale University.

William Stubbs was born June 2, 1825, the son of William Morley Stubbs, in Knaresborough, Yorkshire. Educated at Oxford, he graduated in 1848 with a first class in classics and a third in mathematics. Prior to becoming Bishop, Stubbs concentrated on historical study and his written works were grounded on learning and veneration for antiquity. He believed that English history should be thoroughly investigated beginning with each parish. In his time, no English historian was as universally acknowledged as the leader of all English historians.

After attending the funeral of Queen Victoria and preaching the following day, he became critically ill. Bishop Stubbs died on April 22, 1901.

July 27, 2009

Thanks to Craig Showalter for the following links to materials on the history of the Christian Church.

Some materials can be found on the Restoration Movement web pages of the Memorial University in Newfoundland.

MU's materials include electronic copies of 7 booklets by J. F. Burnett and his biography of Barton Stone.

More publications by the Christian Publishing Association can be found by searching Google Books or Internet Archive.

July 24, 2009

This mini-course started last Tuesday but there is still time to register for the next two classes. Peggy Bendroth, historian of American religion and director of the Congregational Library, welcomes all students at all levels for this class covering three and a half centuries, from Congregationalism's English Puritan roots to the denominational merger which created the United Church of Christ in 1957.

Class meets July 28 and August 4 from 1:00-3:30PM. Cost is $30. Call 617-523-0470 to register.

July 23, 2009

The Metro-West Daily News has published an article about historical reenactor (and regular CL guest speaker) Linda Palmer entitled Hudson Woman Wearing History on Her Sleeve.

July 23, 2009

On Wednesday, July 29 at 12 noon, join historical re-creator Linda K. Palmer, in the guise of Puritan colonist Ann Vassall, for a brown bag lunch (bring your lunch) and walking tour of nearby Puritan landmarks. The character Linda Palmer portrays was a passenger on board the Arbella, the ship that brought the first Puritans and the Charter from King Charles I to America.

Learn what it is like to live in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 and why Vassell thinks this is the year that will make or break the colony.

The tour begins in the Congregational Library with a narrative given by Linda Palmer then moves outside to visit such landmarks as the statue of Quaker rebel Mary Dyer at the State House and King's Chapel Burying Ground.

Each participant receives a copy of the Bonner map of 1722 with Puritan sights highlighted.

For additional information contact us at 617-523-0470.

July 22, 2009

Last Friday we launched a new page on the web site: a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for churches in the process of closing. It is very unfortunate that this resource needs to exist, but we get questions fairly regularly on what a Congregation should do in this transition. This list is not necessarily complete or a perfect answer for each church's situation, so be prepared to contact us for further clarification.

July 21, 2009

Now available on our website are links to the digitized Minutes. These reports may be accessed under Digital Resources and are listed by year from 1852 to 1923.

American Congregationalists did not meet nationally until 1852. The Albany Convention of that year, and a subsequent meeting in Boston in 1865, paved the way for the formation of the National Council of Congregational Churches in 1871. This Council met every three years. After the merger of Congregationalists and the General Convention of Christian Churches in 1931, the national body took a new name, the General Council of Congregational Christian Churches. This terminology continued until the merger with the Evangelical and Reformed Churches which created the United Church of Christ in 1957.

July 20, 2009

Some of you may have heard about the goof that Amazon has had with their Kindle books. If you haven't, do follow the link or you can take this biased Information Professional's summary: Some of the books they offered -- specifically George Orwell's -- were disputed by publishers to not have copyright permission, and so those who bought Orwell's titles found the books no longer on their Kindle readers. The one saving grace was that the customers' money was returned.

I will admit that I have been toying with the idea of getting a Kindle or a Kindle-clone. I do travel and my daily commute is a minimum of an hour and a half. It would be nice to never be caught out without something to read and never have to carry a big hard-back. I also argued with myself that I still buy CDs, but use iTunes as my default mode of listening. It is a safe bet I'd not give up on paper books.

However, after this latest incident, I think I'll wait for them to sort out a few more of their customer service and technical bugs. DRM is obnoxious. iTunes managed to shed itself from it. I suspect e-books will, too. Eventually.

In the meantime, my addage: "digital is about access, but not about preservation," holds true. ... well, unless they take away your access, too.


July 15, 2009

bust of Edwards Parks

In 1887, the American Congregational Association purchased a bust of Rev. Edwards Amasa Park, a founder of the organization, for $25.00. This bust sits in an alcove near the windows in the Library's Reading Room. Rev. Park, born in 1808 in Providence, Rhode Island, was the son of Calvin Park (1774-1847). Rev. Calvin Park, a Congregational minister, was a professor at Brown University and later the pastor at Stoughton, Massachusetts. Edwards Park was a graduate of Brown University in 1826 and of Andover Theological Seminary in 1831. He served as co-pastor from 1831-1833 of the orthodox Congregational church in Braintree.

His academic career began in 1835 at Amherst College where he held the position of professor of mental and moral philosophy. In 1836, Rev. Park began his 55 year connection with Andover Theological Seminary. He was Bartlett professor of sacred rhetoric from 1836-1847 and Abbot professor of Christian theology from 1847 until his retirement in 1881.

Rev. Park was an admirer of Jonathan Edwards, whose great-granddaughter, he married. Park was considered one of the most prominent Congregational theologians and orators in the country. He was a leader of the new school of "New England Theology". He died at Andover at the age of ninety-one in 1900.

July 13, 2009

reenactment of the Mass Bible carter signing

This past week was the Massachusetts Bible Society's 200th anniversary. Part of their festivities included a reenactment at the statehouse of their charter signing. Both Peggy and I went to see that, and then later that evening, Peggy gave a talk at their celebration. MBS has posted the video of that -- check it out.


July 10, 2009

We recently received manuscript sermons of Rev. Silas P. Cook. Rev. Cook was born in 1845 in Richmond, NH. He was a graduate of Harvard University in 1867 and from Princeton Divinity School in 1869. He served during the Civil War and was ordained in Marlboro, NH in 1869. He was pastor of the Congregational churches in Windsor (1870-1873) and Ludlow, VT (1873-1877). In Boston, he worked for the Y.M.C.A. and was pastor of the Third Congregational Church in Chelsea from 1880-1889.

In 1889, Rev. Cook became pastor of the Congregational church in Northfield (1889-1895). It was while in Northfield that he became interested in the Massachusetts Home Missionary Society and was given charge of the Berkshire field. He continued his missionary work in Berkshire County for 35 years. He died in Pittsfield, MA in May, 1926.

The sermons we have date from 1870-1880 covering his service in Windsor, Ludlow, and ending in Chelsea.

July 7, 2009

Just added to the collection:

A Secular Age by Charles Taylor.
For reviews see

In my Power: Letter Writing and Communications in Early America by Konstantin Dierks.
For reviews see

Check out our entire collection on our online catalog. Contact us if you are interested in borrowing these or other books.

July 6, 2009

Today's the first day back at the library since June 26. Some of you may have noticed that in that intervening time our website was down for a while, for which I apologize. Thanks to the rest of the staff for figuring it out and fixing. The site going down does illustrate exactly how much it is used, though: it's no longer a nice little option as it may have been viewed as 10 years ago.

Jessica's trip to Wisconsin:
I attended the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches annual meeting where I taught two classes: New Technologies for Church Settings and Records Management.

The new tech class, which was co-presented with Rob Brink from First Church Wauwatosa, was quite a surprise. Almost 50 people -- a new record for me on class size for any topic. I have to say thanks again to Rob for collaborating. His pastor's point of view combined with emphatic interest in new tech makes him an ideal partner for this class. We had a lot of great questions. We probably could have taken an extra hour talking and answering questions.

The Records Management class followed later that same afternoon. Thanks to the 20 people who attended. I've been teaching this one for a few years now and it's my bread and butter. This group was a bit more reserved, but I hope that if any of them have questions as they proceed with their projects, they will not hesitate to contact me.

Both groups should have gotten links to the presentation in their email this morning. If anyone reading was there and hasn't received it, please contact me: jsteytler -at- 14beacon -dot- org. (obviously you'll have to reconstruct that address. I'm hoping I've foiled the spambots on this occasion). Additionally, if you're curious to see the presentations and you were not there, drop me a line and I will send you the link.

July 2, 2009

As a follow up on the article "Christian Periodicals in the Congregational Library" by Richard H. Taylor and Timothy Brown that appeared in the Fall 2008 Bulletin of the Congregational Library, we have been reviewing and updating the catalog records describing the Christian Church/Connection materials. You can search for books and periodicals by entering the terms "Christian Church (Denomination)" in the search box in our online catalog.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our holdings.

June 30, 2009

We are aware that is not accessing our website. We are working on this. Our alternate address is available but not entirely up-to-date. Thank you for your patience.

June 30, 2009

Deanne and Abby came into the Library yesterday letterboxing. They were successful in their hunt but we won't reveal their secret. If you are interested in finding out more about letterboxing check out: or Great fun for the whole family.

June 29, 2009

"Sundays in America" book coverIf you are looking for a book to take with you this summer, you can't go wrong by picking up this one. It is not beach reading but it will engage you on that plane, train, bus, or car trip (as long as you aren’t driving). Suzanne Strempek Shea may be familiar to you as the author of Selling the Lite of Heaven or Shelf Life. In this book, Ms. Shea travels around America searching for a new religious home. Her journey is both physical and spiritual. She has determined that the faith she was raised in, Roman Catholic, no longer provides her with the worship community she needs.

Beginning on Easter or "Resurrection" Sunday, Ms. Shea begins at New Mount Zion Baptist Church the year long journey to visit Christian churches, large and small, new and old, lead by the famous and unknowns from Maine to Hawaii. She goes to each church as a seeker with the hope that she will find the one place where she belongs. Along the way, she finds churches she would be happy to return to and churches that disappoint her. Her descriptions of the churches, congregants, and preachers will carry you into each worship place with her. Some places she visits are: Arch Street Friends Meeting House, Philadelphia; First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston; Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA; Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago; Mashpee Baptist Church, Mashpee, MA; Harvest Church of the Nazarene, Las Vegas; and Interfaith Chapel, Denver International Airport.

In the end, one year later, Ms. Shea writes that her travels have distilled what she needs in a new church: a warm community that disregards politics and lifestyle; supports and is active in social justice; allows congregants decision making roles (no hierarchy); has a spiritual message "inspired by love rather than fear"; and has art and music. She has not found her perfect church but would willingly return to several that offered "lots of what matters to me".

For more reviews check out

June 26, 2009

In 1958, Corrine M. Nordquest was hired as Assistant Librarian replacing retiring Assistant Librarian Florence K. Babcock. Rev. John A. Harrer was then Librarian of the American Congregational Association (ACA). Prior to her employment at the Congregational Library, Miss Nordquest worked for Congregational societies. She was with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (A.B.C.F.M.) serving five years in Africa. On her return from Africa, she became a director of religious education. She also served at the City Mission Society in Boston.

Miss Nordquest was a graduate of Schauffler College in Cleveland, Ohio, which is now a part of Oberlin College. Upon starting at the Congregational Library, she enrolled in the library science program at Simmons College and received her Master of Library Science degree in 1961. She was promoted to Associate Librarian in 1962.

Appointed Librarian in 1963, Miss Nordquest became the first woman Librarian of the ACA. From the minutes of the Annual Meeting in May, 1963, the Library Committee reported: "Her work in the library has been of a high degree of proficiency. An advance in services to the churches by the Congregational Library through years to come is confidently anticipated." She served until 1968.

Her library career continued at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Library and at the Yale Divinity School Library until retirement. She married John A. Harrer in 1984.

She was a member of the Second Congregational Church in Ashtabula, Ohio. Survivors include a sister, Juanita Rhinehart; brother, Harland Nordquest; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband; her parents; and her brothers, Leslie and Richard Nordquest.

A memorial service will be held at a later date, in Waverly, Ohio. Corrine donated her body to the Ohio State University Medical School. Messages of condolence may be sent to Corinne’s brother, Mr. Harland K. Nordquest, 1733 W. 7th St., Ashtabula, OH 44004-2878. Memorial contributions may be made to the Second Congregational Church, 319 Lake Ave., Ashtabula, OH  44004.

June 24, 2009

The following is a post by one of our most recent Simmons interns, Meg Rampton.

I started at the Congregational Library very excited and anxious to process my very first collection after started my masters degree at Simmons College last fall. I had spent hundreds of hours in archives researching but had never been on the other side: preparing and organizing the documents. The library and archive are housed together in a wonderful environment overlooking the Granary Burial ground. I knew at the beginning I would enjoy this internship. 60 hours were required for my class but I knew I could spend much more time there.

My project was to process the Blake-Goodsell Collection. Everett Blake married Lynda Goodsell in 1926 in Berkley, California. They followed Fred and Lou Goodsell, Lynda’s parents, path and shortly after moved to Turkey and spent most of their lives as missionaries in the Middle East. The collection covered 5 generations of the Everett Blake and Fred Goodsell Families. As I started there were boxes of all sizes with many different documents inside. A majority was letters back and forth between family members. After hours of sorting and organizing the letters, I came to feel as if I knew the family. When I went through the correspondence about Lynda's death I felt the emotions as if I knew her.

Blake-Goodsell collection in progress
The endless boxes of correspondence

Although I have never met any family member I felt grateful for the service they preformed for others as missionaries. As a returned missionary myself for my church, I knew the difficulties and sacrifice they went through. They were good people. And they sure did write a lot! When my project was completed there were over nine and a half boxes of correspondence.

One of my favorite finds in the collection was in one of Fred Goodsell's journal. He had three original revolutionary war dollars. They were very tattered paper about 3 inches square and in the amount of 1/6th of a dollar, 20 dollars, and 30 dollars printed in 1776.

Thank you to the Congregation Church for allowing me to work with you!

Meg Rampton
Meg doing the final sort in the reading room

June 23, 2009

Yesterday I started getting notes from librarian friends: Ohio's public libraries are about to be in a world of hurt if their budgets end up getting cut by 50%, which is the current path the Strickland camp are currently taking.

To read more about this issue:
An article by the Ohio Library Council, Library Journal, The Library is Closed -- a dedicated blog, Save Ohio Libraries Facebook group, and celebrity author Neil Gaiman's commentary, which then loops back to the Library Journal entry.

For those who can, the separate Save Our Libraries blog provides links to contacting the state's representatives. Good luck to our colleagues in Ohio.

June 22, 2009

On Saturday the Globe ran an article about our building superintendent, John. I ended up talking to the reporter, so this wasn't a complete surprise.


We had posted a small gallery of his photos of the original couple some time ago and everyone at the library always looks forward to his daily updates

Hawks on Beacon Hill catch eye of Somerville man - The Boston Globe

Posted using ShareThis

Be sure to watch the video and read the article. The comments that go with it are quite sweet.