Danvers, Mass. First Church
First Church of Danvers was founded in 1672 when a group of farmers who lived quite a distance from the Salem meetinghouse of which they were members petitioned for permission to erect one of their own. After initially being denied, the Massachusetts Court granted permission for a meetinghouse to be established in what was then known as Salem Village, and for the gathered body to call a minister.
This collection contains records from the years 1689-1845. During that time, First Church became the epicenter of the Salem witchcraft hysteria, built four meetinghouses, was instrumental in the establishment and building of the village's first school, saw Danvers incorporated as its own town, and survived the Revolutionary War while at the same time contributing numerous officers and soldiers to the cause. The First Church of Danvers Congregational is still active today and is a member of the United Church of Christ.
The digital collections below are copies of original church records digitized on 35mm microfilm. In 1962, three microfilm copies of the Danvers church record book were produced. One was deposited at the Congregational Library & Archives, and is, at the time of writing, the only copy of the Danvers record book available online in its entirety. The volumes include the earliest book of church records spanning 1689-1845 and a book of accounts and financial records dating 1672-1735.
For additional information please see the finding aid.
The records in this volume include meeting minutes, confessions, covenants, correspondence, and membership records. Also found in this collection are records of births, deaths, marriages, and baptisms. Of particular note are records pertaining to the witchcraft hysteria, including records of Martha Kory's [sic] excommunication from the church for witchcraft, and the confession and apology of witchcraft accuser Anne Putnam, made ten years after the controversy.
This volume contains a combination of church meeting minutes, primarily relating to financial matters, as well as records of members annual rates (taxes in support of the church), expenses for maintaining the church building, and ministerial salaries.