Series 3: Conference and Association Records

This series contains collections of records created by conferences of churches, associations of ministers, and other regional groups in the early Puritan, Congregational, and Christian (denomination) traditions in New England. Although Congregationalists tend to shun hierarchical systems in favor of the autonomy of each church, they often form these fellowship groups that allow them to debate and discuss various matters.

In this series you will find meeting minutes, committee reports, membership lists, rules and recommendations for ordinations of ministers, as well as discussions of various matters of doctrine. As the collection grows, the records of ecclesiastical councils that are not part of a larger church records collection will also be added.

Click on the name of the collection to go to its collection page on our digital archive and explore the digitized materials.


The Collections

Berkshire Association of Congregational Ministers (1759-1859)

The Berkshire Association was formed in 1763. Due to its significant size, the association separated into two distinct organizations in 1852 — Berkshire North Association and Berkshire South Association. Now a single entity, the Berkshire Association remains active and is a part of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ. This collection contains volumes of general Association records as well as ecclesiastical records, disciplinary records, and missionary correspondence.

Cumberland Association of Congregational Ministers (1788-1839)

The Cumberland Association of Congregational Ministers was founded in 1788 and was initially comprised of 8 Congregational clergymen. Meetings were held quarterly in May, July, September, and November. In the May meeting of 1793, the Association explicitly incorporated charity and missions work into its operations. From 1811, the Association began granting clerical certifications. A modern version of the organization continues today as the Cumberland Association of Churches and Ministers and is affiliated with the United Church of Christ. This collection consists of a bound volume of Association records which are administrative in nature, and largely contains meeting minutes as well as lists of rules and regulations.

Cumberland Conference (1836-1859)

The Cumberland Conference was organized in Gorham, Maine, on December 24, 1822. Along with other Maine county conferences, the Cumberland Conference was part of the wider General Conference of the Congregational Churches of Maine. The Conference's annual meetings were held in June, with other single-day meetings in January and October. The Conference partook in fundraising and the supply of monetary aid to regional churches, and also published The Christian Mirror, an influential regional newspaper, from 1822 onwards. The Conference exists today as the Cumberland Association of Churches and Ministers. This collection consists of a single bound volume of administrative records including membership rolls, the constitution, by-laws, and meeting minutes.

Essex North Association (1761-1836)

The Essex Middle Association, which would later become the Essex North Association, was formed in Rowley, West Parish (now Georgetown), in 1761. The Essex North Association merged with the Essex South Association and later the Andover Association to become the Northeast Association. The Northeast Association continues today as part of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ. This collection contains a single volume of records which includes meeting minutes, the association's articles of agreement, and membership lists.

General Association of Connecticut (1708-1952)

The General Association of Connecticut was a collection of regional groups within Connecticut which formed to advocate and facilitate the communion of churches and ministers. The earliest meeting was held in Hartford County in 1709. The locations of their meetings would change yearly. At the turn of the 19th century, the General Association began to have its auxiliary units absorbed into the new Congregational Christian Conference of Connecticut. By 1867, the General Association also became a part of the Congregational Christian Conference. This conference became the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ in 1957. The Connecticut Conference, Massachusetts Conference, and Rhode Island Conferences merged in 2020 to form the Southern New England Conference. This collection consists of county-based record books dating from 1708-1952.

Hampden Association of Congregational Ministers (1762-1844)

Some version of the Hampden Association of Congregational Ministers existed during the 18th century; however, the association is not listed by that name until 1814 in a Massachusetts General Association meeting. The Hampden Association was split into the East and West Hampden Associations in 1844. In 1850, the Hampden Conference of Churches was formed. The Hampden Association continues today as a part of the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ. This collection contains administrative records for the conference as well as correspondence, ordination records, dismission records, and ecclesiastical council results.

Hampshire Association of Churches and Ministers (1731-1747)

The Hampshire Association of Churches and Ministers was started by Rev. Solomon Stoddard in 1714 based on the model of the Saybrook Platform. This collection contains a 1927 photostat copy of an original record book containing meeting minutes from the Association.

Maine Missionary Society (1807-1869)

The organization which would become the Maine Missionary Society was originally founded in 1802 as the Lincoln and Kennebec Religious Tract Society. It was reorganized as the Maine Missionary Society in 1807. Annual meetings were held in June and hosted on a rotating basis in different towns across Maine. The Society predated, but became a part of, the American Home Missionary Society. This collection contains the first two Maine Missionary Society record books which include general administrative records and trustee records.

Marlborough Association of Congregational Ministers (1725-1842)

The Marlborough Association of Congregational Ministers was formed, and first met, on June 5, 1725, in the house of Rev. Robert Breck. The association dealt with "cases of conscience, questions of difficulty in church discipline, or matters of disagreement, between the parties in a church, or between pastor and people." Due to declining membership, the ministers decided to dissolve the Marlborough Association on October 18, 1814. This collection contains two volumes of administrative records which cover the entire history of the organization.

Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers (1749-1838)

The Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers began between 1692 and 1694 when ministers in Massachusetts Bay met to consider contemporary issues facing their parishes. By the middle of the 20th century, the convention became a center of religious dialogue for Massachusetts Congregational minister. The organization continues to meet today. The records in this collection contain meeting minutes, correspondence, reports, financial statements, photographs, and publications.

Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society (1834-1862)

The Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society (SFASS) was formed in 1834. The preamble to the SFASS's constitution stated its three principles: that slavery should be immediately abolished; that African Americans, enslaved or free, have a right to a home in the country without fear of intimidation, and that society should be ready to acknowledge people of color as friends and equals. Early activities of the society included distributing clothes to free African American residents in the area, supporting the National Anti-Slavery Bazaar at Faneuil Hall, organizing a sewing school for Black girls, and aiding fugitive slaves in Canada. With its primary goal, the abolition of slavery, accomplished during the Civil War, the Society voted to dissolve on January 3, 1866. This collection contains both administrative record books and correspondence from 1839.

Salem Witchcraft Trials (1692)

The Salem Witchcraft Trials were a series of hearings before county court trials to prosecute people accused of witchcraft in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex in colonial Massachusetts, between February 1692 and May 1693. Despite being generally known as the Salem Witchcraft Trials, the preliminary hearings in 1692 were conducted in various towns across the province: Salem Village (now Danvers), Ipswich, Andover, and Salem Town. The best-known trials were conducted by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692 in Salem Town. This collection contains testimony, confessions, and other case documents related to the Salem Witchcraft Trials.

Strict Congregational Convention of Connecticut (1773-1811)

These records mainly comprise the proceedings of the convention, or general meeting, of the Strict Congregational Churches of Connecticut, 1782-1811, and correspondence between individual Separate churches and the conventions. Local churches writing to the convention include Preston, Plainfield, Killingly, Canterbury, Lyme, Canaan, South Groton, North Groton, Waterbury, Stonington, New Milford, Enfield, Montville, Voluntown, and the Second Church at Middletown in Connecticut, and the Presbytery of Morris County, N.J., as well as the Strict Congregational Church in the Oblong, and in Southhold, L.I. The collection also includes financial records of the Second Strict Congregational Church of Middletown, where Benjamin Graves served as pastor or elder, 1804-1812. Also included are personal financial records of Benjamin Graves. Some items appear to be in his hand.