A Year-End Message from the Executive Director

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

To the Members and Friends of the Congregational Library and Archives,

As we near the end of 2020, I am sure that many of you join me in feeling a palpable sense of relief that this turbulent year of pandemic, political division, and racial strains is coming to a close.  Even though these potent issues are still with us, the turn of a year is a time of promise, of hope, of resolution to live into a better life and to commit to causes that matter.

The Congregational Library and Archives has been blessed to have weathered the Coronavirus era, and your ongoing support has been the centerpiece of our remarkable organization’s capacity to do so.  While we have not been able to have researchers come physically to the Library, our staff has done a remarkable job of providing resources and expert knowledge to historians of the academy, the pulpit, and the pew.

We have launched new initiatives during a time when we realized that the CLA needed to become more nimble and dexterous to meet the needs of our audiences during a time of social separation.

I invite you to enjoy new content on our YouTube page developed by our Program Committee: a series of “History Talks,” conversations about books and history.  We launched History Talks just before Thanksgiving, when I was joined by Dr. Frank Bremer, Professor Emeritus of History at Millersville University and the chair of our Program Committee, to discuss the first Thanksgiving, and for a “mini-lecture” on the Mayflower Compact. Another member of our Board, Dr. Adrian Weimer (Associate Professor of History at Providence College), interviewed Dr. Erik R. Seeman (Professor of History at the University of Buffalo) about his new book Speaking with the Dead in Early America, winner of the 2020 Lawrence W. Levine Award from the Organization of American Historians.  Most recently, Dr. Bremer interviewed Dr. John G. Turner (Professor of Religious Studies at George Mason University) about his new book, published for the 400th anniversary of the Plymouth landing, They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty. 

All of these History Talks can be found at our YouTube site.

Further, we have come to realize that the Congregational Library and Archives is called to be a vital resource not only for those who journey to Boston to explore our collections in person, but increasingly must be accessible to members and friends from anywhere on the globe.  To this end, we underwent a months-long discernment process to select an outstanding Digital Asset Management (DAM) system, and are delighted to have begun a partnership with Quartex, developed by Adam Matthew Digital.  One of the most exciting aspects of 2021 will be not only to unveil our newly renovated physical space at 14 Beacon Street, but to make our collections increasingly available to the wider public as well via this important new platform.

The Congregational Library and Archives has done a remarkable job of adapting and thriving at a time when many predicted that, at best, we might struggle to survive.  Our CLA staff and board have been nothing less than extraordinary, as has been your support throughout this year.  As we come to the close of 2020, let me offer one last appeal on behalf of the CLA:  We are able to tell the Congregationalists’ stories because of members and friends like you.  If you are be able to lend us your support during this philanthropic season, we can continue our mission to uphold the Congregational story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, beginning with the seventeenth-century Puritans and continuing on through nineteenth-century abolitionists and social reformers to the work of modern-day Congregational churches toward a just and open society.  You may click on this link to provide the CLA with a donation today:


If you would like to be in touch, please do write me at smurray@14beacon.org. I am still in my first year as the CLA Executive Director, and I absolutely enjoy meeting you and hearing your hopes and concerns for the Congregational Library and Archives. This place, these collections, and its people are a treasure.

May this holy season grant you a time of respite, and may you have a happy new year!

Sincerely yours,

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray
Executive Director
Congregational Library and Archives, Boston, Massachusetts