New at the CLA: January 2020

Friday, January 31, 2020

It is a new year for the staff of the Congregational Library & Archives! And with the new year comes new resolutions. Starting now, with this January 2020 report, the CLA's staff will be using this space to report on all of the new resources, collections, and everything in between that have been worked on in the month. There are always new things being added to the CLA's offerings and we hope that these monthly reports will help to illuminate the work of our staff and showcase some of the exciting materials that are newly available to all.


Library Buzz

January has been a very busy month for the CLA and it's staff. With the new year a number of new initiatives have been undertaken to make 2020 one of the most exciting years for the CLA. Internally, the staff have been hard at work creating and updating documentation. Sara Trotta, the librarian, has also been leading the staff through a point-by-point discussion and exploration of the CLA's unique classification scheme to help everyone better understand the CLA's holdings and identify how the CLA can continue to grow its offerings for all of its various users. Meanwhile, all staff have been working on processing collections, cataloging new books, and growing the collection.

Renovations have also been a major factor in the month of January with work finally nearing its conclusion. There have been two updates to the Renovations page showcasing the rapid pace in which things are progressing. Not pictured is the scaffolding currently inhabiting the Reading Room in preparation for the installation of new sprinkler heads. If all goes as planned, the renovations should be complete in eary March.


January Book Club

One of the other major initiatives undertaken by the staff of the CLA is to host an internal book club for staff to read and discuss recent professional literature and expand their knowledge on topics related to Congregationalism, whether that be polity or history.

This month the staff first read Toward More Honest Description by Jennifer Douglas. The article looks at the various forces that act on and shape the arrangement and description of archival collections and explores ways in which archivists can better, and more honestly, illuminate how these foces shape the processing workflow.

The staff also read The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell. The book takes a critical, but always humorous, look at the Puritan settlers who wished to create a "City on the hill." Throughout the book Vowell shows how the ideal of the city on the hill came to be and the ways it has been appropriated throughout American history, as well as how the Puritan settlers both lived up to those ideals, and failed them.

The CLA's staff will soon be releasing a more detailed write-up and report of these book club items so look forward to that!


New Library Resources

The following library resources have been added to the CLA's catalog:

  • The man everybody knew: Bruce Barton and the making of modern America by Richard M. Fried (2005); "Bruce Barton is the most famous twentieth-century American without a biography. Historian Fried's new study captures the full dimensions of Barton's varied and fascinating life."
  • The Puritans: a transatlantic history by David D. Hall (2019); "This book is a sweeping transatlantic history of Puritanism from its emergence out of the religious tumult of Elizabethan England to its founding role in the story of America."
  • Speaking with the dead in early America by Erik R. Seeman (2019); "This book is a 300-year social history of Protestant communication with the dead in early America (to the mid-nineteenth century); the people in the book are a wide variety of people. This book is also a history of women in religion."


New Archival Aquisitions

John Gardner papers: This collection includes the personal papers, published works, and manuscript sermons of Rev. John Gardner who arrived to the United States as an immigrant from England and eventually became a Congregational minister in Illinois, California, and New York.


New Finding Aids

Haverhill, Mass. First Congregational Churchrecords, 1719-2012. RG5027: by Zachary Bodnar. This collection contains the administrative, financial, and important membership records of the First Parish Church, North Congregational Church, Centre Congregational Church, First CongregationalChurch, and North Parish Community Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Medfield, Mass. First Parish Unitarian Churchrecords, 1697-1970. RG5309: by Jules Thomson. This collection contains the administrative, financial, and membership records of the First Parish Church in Medfield.


New Digital Resources

Benjamin Wadsworth sermons: This digital collection comprises a collection of sermons in which Rev. Wadswoth details his interpretation of chapters in the Old Testament, as well as providing general notes and commentary on the scriptural passages.

Braintree, Mass. First Church records: This digital collection has been updated to include a volume of 1762-1824 church records with administrative information and birth, marriage, and death records.

Daniel Rogers sermons:This digital collection consist of numerous of Rev. Rogers's sermons, encompassing his time at both York and Exeter, dating from 1741-1799. Occasional sermons in the collection however appear to be of different authorship, including two which are dated after the year of his death.

Dover, N.H. First Parish Church records: This digital collection has been updated to include valuable correspondence and records from the first half of the 19th-century.

Medfield, Mass. First Parish Unitarian Church records: This new digital collection includes the earliest administrative church records, membership records, relations, correspondence, manuscript sermons, and financial records of the first church in Medfield.


New Website Resources:

Bibliographies: The website has been reorganized a bit and old bibliographies now have a new home under the For Researchers tab.  A new bibliography was also added to the CLA's previously published bibliograpies!

Pre-1821 American Sacred Music at the Congregational Library and Archives: This bibliography, written by Nym Cooke, a scholar of early-American sacred music, and edited for web publication by Zachary Bodnar, brings to the forefront the unique collection of sacred music held by the Congregational Library & Archives.