Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Congregational Library and Archives: Opening a window to early Colonial History

I ran across this website the other day and finding it highlighted the fact that, as genealogists, we will never really run out of new places to look and new collections to explore. Quoting from the Website for the Congregational Libray and Archives:
The Congregational Library holds some 225,000 items, both archival and published, covering Congregational Christian history and a broad array of related topics. 
Our rare book section includes an unusually rich and complete representation of English and first-generation Puritan works, including an original copy of the Cambridge Platform of 1649. The Library’s archive of colonial-era church records is also extensive, containing many sets of seventeenth-century documents as well as full collections from large and historically significant modern churches like Boston’s Old South, established in 1669, and Park Street Church, formed in 1809. Many are available in digital form as part of our Hidden Histories collections, and accessible on our website. 
The Congregational Library also has a large sermon collection, some 15,000 individual pieces, covering the period from the late 1600s to the twentieth century, in both manuscript and printed form. 
As the designated archive of the Congregational Christian churches (up through 1957), the Library holds all the major institutional records of the denomination, as well as some 1500 different periodicals representing its longstanding interest in social reform, missionary work, and education. The Congregational Library also holds rare newspapers from the Christian Connection, a denomination that merged with the Congregational churches in 1931.

If your ancestors came from New England, there is a good possibility that some of them were Congregationalists. Again, quoting from the website:
Who are the Congregationalists?
The Congregational tradition dates back to sixteenth-century England, where Protestant reformers formed the ideal of independent local churches free from liturgical ceremony and hierarchical control by the Church of England. These reformers, also known as Puritans, emigrated to New England in the mid-1600s, to establish a "godly commonwealth" of locally governed church with simple forms of worship, governed by the people of the congregation. As a Protestant denomination built on strong community bonds, the Congregational churches went on to exercise a broad influence on American culture, both in the world of ideas and in efforts for social reform. 
These churches exist today within the United Church of Christ, and in two continuing bodies, the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.
Many of my own ancestors were probably Congregationalists,  especially those who are descendants of the Mayflower passengers. There is an extensive collection of digital images on this website of records that are likely unavailable anywhere else.

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