A New Finding Guide for BIPOC within our digitized NEHH records

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


New England’s Hidden Histories, a church records digitization project of the Congregational Library & Archives, is pleased to announce its latest initiative - Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in Early Congregationalism.

This important subsection within New England’s Hidden Histories highlights documents within our collections pertinent to the lives and experiences of these populations in the region.  NEHH’s manuscript and digital collections include many documents relevant to these groups that are available nowhere else, such as the records of the First Church of Natick, MA, the only records extant of a church that was both English Congregationalist and Native American, and the records of the Abyssinian Church of Portland, ME, the only records from an early New England Black church that are available online. The records of both of these churches have been transcribed by NEHH.

Our BIPOC collections are divided into several different categories, such as “Firsthand Writings by BIPOC,” which includes unpublished and otherwise inaccessible writings by the famous Black clergyman Lemuel Haynes, and the only known relation of faith written in the hand of an enslaved person. Our “BIPOC Churches and Institutions” section contains the Natick and Abyssinian church records, with more to come. Our “Indigenous Focused Records” include the journal and letterbook of the famed missionary Gideon Hawley and will soon include early eighteenth-century missionary sermons written in both English and a Native American dialect. The online availability of these documents is exclusive to NEHH.


The BIPOC finding guide also includes an extensive bibliographic section that directs researchers to further primary and secondary sources relating to the lives of Black and Indigenous people  in early New England. Many of our BIPOC documents have been digitized in conjunction with and are available courtesy of NEHH’s important scholarly partners; the missionary sermons, for example, are held by the American Antiquarian Society, while the Abyssinian manuscripts are held by the Maine Historical Society.

We believe NEHH’s BIPOC Finding Guide will greatly serve scholars and the general public, and invite you to visit http://congregationallibrary.org/POCFindingAid/Introduction.