Boston, Massachusetts. Old South Church. Records, 1669-2012

Collection Information
Title:

Boston, Mass. Old South Church records, 1659-2012.

Creator(s):

Third Congregational Church (Boston, Mass.)
Old South Church (Boston, Mass.)

Dates:

1659-2012, bulk 1669-1947

Extent:

55 boxes: 11 clam shells, 15 document cases, 4 pamphlet boxes, 1 record carton, 6 half record cartons, 1 shoe box, 17 boxes, 143 volumes, 1 folder, 1 envelope (29.96 cubic feet)

30 reels of microfilm (0.6 cubic feet)

Collection ID #:

RG0028

Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is open and available to the public. There are some physical restrictions, see Physical Access for details.

Physical Access:

The earliest records have restricted physical access. Use microfilm surrogate. Container list will identify what materials are microfilmed.

Technical Access:

Microfilm reels require the use of a microfilm reader. Audio recordings require use of reel-to-reel player, and films require a projector.

Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the Old South Church (Boston, Mass.) records, RG0028. The Congregational Library & Archives, Boston, MA.

Language:

English

Processing information:

Processed 1987-1988 by Thomasin Kellerman; Sandra Sudak, 1992.

Revision History:

Refined  2008 by Jessica Steytler

Re-processed and re-described by Jessica Steytler, July 2013, using DACS Second Edition. Research help from Abigail Cramer and Veronica Denison, 2012.

Abstract:

Twenty-eight lay members from the First Church in Boston founded the Old South Congregation (originally called the Third Church of Boston) in 1669. This collection includes Church records such as baptismal records, pew proprietor records, membership records, minutes of meetings for church and society, financial and legal, records of various Church committees, ministers, the Prince Library, and published material.

Acquisition Information:

Placed on permanent loan with the Congregational Library & Archives in 1976 by Old South Church, Boston, Massachusetts.

Accruals:

The original collection was deposited on trust in 1976 with an addition in 1983.

Annual reports from 2005-2012 deposited on trust October 2013.

Annual reports from 1974-1987, 1996-2004 deposited on trust November 2013.

Existence and Location of Originals:

The Old South Church retains many of their own records, particularly for the 20th and 21st centuries.

Existence and Location of Copies:

15 reels of 35 mm positive microfilm containing church meeting minutes, vital statistics, financial records, contributions, society and committee meetings, 1669-1980. Copies of the microfilm are kept at the Congregational Library and at Old South Church.

There are printed, bound copies of four committee volumes (II, III, IV, VI).

Contents

Summary
Collection History and Status
Description
  Further Searches
Contents
  Series 1: Church Records
  Series 2: Church and Society Committees
  Series 3: Financial Records
  Series 4: Legal
  Series 5: Organizations
  Series 6: Photographs and Clippings
  Series 7: Prince Library
  Series 8: Ministers
  Series 9: Publications

 

Description

Historical Note

Twenty-eight lay members from the First Church in Boston founded the Old South Congregation (originally called the Third Church of Boston) in 1669. These lay members seceded from the First Church, opposing the ministers' ideas that adults must have a born again experience and be baptized again before their own children could be baptized. They instead believed that childhood baptisms assured young adults they were full members and could baptize their children.[1] In 1670, the congregation met in the Cedar Meetinghouse for the first time and soon became known as South Church since it was located in the south end of town. Old was added in 1717 to distinguish it from another church being built, which called itself New South.[2] In 1875, construction on a new church for the Old South congregation finished on the corners of Dartmouth and Boylston Streets. This new site has been Old South's home since.[3]

A trademark feature of the Old South Church is its campanile, or tower, which can be seen from several Boston neighborhoods. The first tower of the church leaned since the construction finished in 1875. In 1931, the congregation of the church finally decided to rebuild the tower and it was demolished. With donations from the congregation and Boston residents alike, they were able to build a new tower that was the same height as the original. The campanile rises 226 feet and houses the church's 2,020-pound bell.[4]

Since its establishment in 1669, the Old South congregation has welcomed many famous personages such as Benjamin Franklin, who was baptized by the congregation in 1706; Phillis Wheatley, America's first black poetess; and Elizabeth Vergoose, who is better known as Mother Goose for her nursery rhymes.[5]

 

Ministers

Thomas Thatcher 1670-1678   Benjamin B. Wisner 1821-1832
Samuel Willard 1678-1707   Samuel H. Stearns 1834-1836
Ebenezer Pemberton 1700-1717   George W. Blagden 1836-1872
Joseph Sewall 1713-1769   Jacob M. Manning 1857-1882
Thomas Prince 1718-1758   George Angier Gordon 1884-1927
Alexander Cumming 1761-1763   Russell Henry Stafford 1927-1945
Samuel Blair 1766-1769   Frederick M. Meek 1946-1973
John Hunt / John Bacon 1771-1775   James W. Crawford 1974-2002
Joseph Eckley 1779-1811   Nancy S. Taylor 2005-present
Joshua Huntington 1808-1819      

 

Bibliography

Old South Church. "History." Retrieved from http://www.oldsouth.org/about/history.

Winslow, O. E. And plead for the rights of all; Old South Church Boston, 1669-1969. (1970). Boston: Nimrod Press.

 

Scope of Collection

This collection includes Church records such as baptismal records, pew proprietor records, membership records, minutes of meetings for church and society, financial and legal, records of various Church committees, ministers, the Prince Library, and published material. The bulk date range begins with the establishment of the church in 1669 and up through the 1940s. After that date the holdings are primarily directories and bulletins. The very earliest records, 1659, are in the legal series and refer to purchasing property. An item of note is that within the earliest baptismal records includes Benjamin Franklin's. Material missing from this collection: significant records of the music program, a comprehensive record from or about ministers, or a complete baptismal or marriage registry.

 

Further Searches

Subject Headings

Old South Church (Boston, Mass.)

Crawford, James W.

Gordon, George A. (George Angier), 1853-1929

Manning, Jacob M. (Jacob Merrill), 1824-1882

Prince, Thomas, 1687-1758

Hull, John, 1624-1683

Eckley, Joseph, 1750-1811

Butler, Willis H. (Willis Howard), 1864-1943

Thatcher, Thomas, 1756-1812

Meek, Frederick M.

Norton, Mary

Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790

Stafford, Russell H. (Russell Henry), 1890-1971

Church archives -- Massachusetts.

Church history -- 18th Century.

Church history -- 19th Century.

Church history -- 20th Century. Church records and registers--Boston.

Sermons, American--18th century.

Sermons, American--19th century.

Sermons, American--20th century.

 

Related Materials

Mount Vernon Congregational Church Records (1842-1970) RG 0026

Hill, Hamilton Andrews. History of the Old South Church (Third Church) Boston, 1669-1884. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1890.

Prince Library located at Old South Church, catalog available through Internet Archive.

Many other materials held by the Congregational Library are related in some way to the Old South Church. Review the online catalog and contact a librarian.

 

Arrangement

The collection is divided into the nine series listed below. The order unless otherwise stated will be chronological.

Series 1: Church records
Series 2: Church and Society Committees
Majority of bound books are not in a box, however do have labels and beginning/end dates.
Series 3: Financial
Series 4: Legal and Building
Series 5: Organizations
Series 6: Photographs, Newspaper clippings
Series 7: Prince Library
Series 8: Ministers' records
    Thomas Thatcher
  Joseph Eckley
  Jacob M Manning
  George A Gordon
  Russell H Stafford
  Frederick Meek
  Allen E. Cross
  Willis H. Butler
Series 9: Published histories, publications by the church

 

Abbreviations

The original arrangement of these records made use of abbreviations, which are still listed on several items throughout the collection:

Church Records CR
Church Vital Statistics CVS
  Admissions CVS-A
  Baptisms CVS-B
  Marriages CVS-M
Church Committee Records C-COM
Society Committee Records S-COM
Church Sacramental Contributions C-SAC
Society Records SR
Pew Proprietors PROP

 

Whenever possible, the complete record description will be listed in the container list.

Contents

Series 1: Church Records

  Date: 1669-1986
  Extent: 14 boxes
  Conditions Governing Access: Access to some of the physical items is restricted. When microfilm surrogates exist, they are to be used instead of originals. Exceptions may be granted in cases of extenuating circumstance, at the discretion of the librarian.
  Technical Access: Microfilm reels require the use of a microfilm reader.
  Scope of Series: Includes vital statistics (membership/admissions, baptisms, marriages). Early records merge meeting minutes and vital statistics into the same ledger books. Regarding the marriage records: CVS M I — Record of marriages solemnized by Reverend Joseph Eckley. Collected and arranged from the town clerk's certificates of "publishment on file" and the original memorandums made there in the handwriting of the Rev. Doctor Eckley, certifying the marriages, 1780-1882.
  Arrangement: Church Records CR
    Church Vital Statistics CVS
    Admissions CVS-A
    Baptisms CVS-B
    Marriages CVS-M
 
Church Records — "CR"
    Date Box/Volume Roll #
RESTRICTED CR I – Records of the Old South Church and Congregation
(Reverse of volume contains records of Church and congregation; Also "SR I")
1669-1766
1735-1767
B1/V1
Online interface
1
RESTRICTED CR II – "Church Minutes" 1768-1816 B1/V2
Online interface
1
RESTRICTED CR III – Old South Church Records 1817-1854 B1/V3 1
RESTRICTED CR I-III – Index of Records for first 3 volumes; topical index 1669-1854 B1/V4
Online interface
1
RESTRICTED CR IV – Church Records 1855-1888 B1/V5 2
RESTRICTED CR V – Church Records 1888-1906 B2/V1 2
RESTRICTED CR VI – Church Records 1907-1914 B2/V2 2
RESTRICTED CR VII – Church Records 1915-1921 B2/V3 2
RESTRICTED CR VIII – Church Records 1921-1930 B3/V1 3
RESTRICTED CR IX – Church Records 1930-1936 B3/V2 3
RESTRICTED CR X – Church Records 1936-1942 B3/V3 3
RESTRICTED CR XI – Church Records 1942-1948 B4/V1 3
RESTRICTED CR XII – Church Records 1949-1958 B4/V2 4
RESTRICTED CR XIII – Church Records 1958-1965 B5/V1 4
RESTRICTED CR XIV – Church Records 1965-1969 B5/V2 4
Annual reports bound volume 1974-1987 Shelf 13  
Annual reports bound volume 1996-2004 Shelf 13  
Annual reports bound volume 2005-2008 Shelf 13  
Annual reports bound volume 2009-2012 Shelf 13  
Copy of 1st ledger – First records of church and congregation

Copy of CR I – SR I made in 1858
1669-1766

1735-1767; 1858
B6/V1  
CR IA Copy – Copy of a list of names of those who broke off from the 1st Church to from 3rd Church with additional names through 1713 1669-1713 B6/V2
Online interface
 
CR II Copy – "vol. 2" copied in 1860 1768-1816 B6/V3  
C VS B IA copy 1 – copy of Baptisms 1669-1672 B6/E4  
C VS B IA copy 2 – copy of Baptisms 1669-1875 B6/F5  
C VS B IA copy 3 – copy of Baptisms, sheaf 1669-1830 B55  
       
Church Vital Statistics, Baptisms – "C VS B"
  Date Box/Volume Roll #
RESTRICTED C VS B I – Baptisms 1669-1672 B7/V1
Online interface
4
RESTRICTED C VS B II – Index to records, Baptisms 1857-1920 B7/V2 4
RESTRICTED C VS B III – Originals on 3 x 5 inch cards. One roll of microfilm on recent baptisms, no hard copy at Cong. Lib. 1927-1986   7
       
Church Vital Statistics, Admissions – "C VS A"
  Date Box/Volume Roll #
RESTRICTED C VS A I – Admission of Old South,
Membership
owners of the baptismal covenant

1669-1855
1669-1814
B7/V3
Online interface
4
RESTRICTED C VS A II – List of Members 1669-1855 B7/V4
Online interface
4
RESTRICTED C VS A III – Members; begun 1859 with retrospective of previous membership 1669-1923 B7/V5 4
Mary Brackett's and others' membership petition and the copy of judgment in their favor 1674 B7/F6  
Dismission letter for John and Mary Winslow from Plymouth to Third Church, photostatic copy 1671 B46  
Dismission letter for Governor Simon Bradstreet from Andover to Third Church; photostatic copy 1680 B46  
Dismission letter for Samuel Adams from Brattle Street to Third Church, photostatic copy 1789 B46  
RESTRICTED C VS A IV – Originals on 3 x 5 inch cards. 1 roll of microfilm on recent admissions 1941-1980    
Certificates of  Church Membership, A-G undated B8/F1  
Certificates of Church Membership, H-W undated B8/F2  
Certificates of Church Membership 1821-1823 B8/F3  
Certificates of Church Membership 1823-1827 B8/F4  
Certificates of Church Membership 1828-1829 B8/F5  
Certificates of Church Membership 1830-1831 B8/F6  
Letters 1832 September-December B8/F7  
Letters 1833 B8/F8  
Letters 1834 B9/F1  
Letters 1834 B9/F2  
Letters 1835 B9/F3  
Letters 1836 B9/F4  
Letters 1837 B9/F5  
Letters 1838 B9/F6  
Letters 1839 B9/F7  
Letters 1840 January-April B9/F8  
Letters 1840 May-September B9/F9  
Letters 1840 September-December B9/F10  
Letters 1841 January-August B9/F11  
Letters 1841 September-December B9/F12  
Letters 1842 January-May B10/F1  
Letters 1842 June-September B10/F2  
Letters 1842-1843 B10/F3  
Letters 1843 February-July B10/F4  
Letters 1843-1844 B10/F5  
Letters 1844 July-December B10/F6  
Letters 1845 January-June B10/F7  
Letters 1845 July-December B10/F8  
Letters 1846 January-August B10/F9  
Letters 1846 September-December B10/F10  
Letters 1847 January-June B10/F11  
Letters 1847 July-December B10/F12  
Letters 1848-1849 B11/F1  
Letters 1848 April B11/F2  
Letters 1850 B11/F3  
Letters 1851 B11/F4  
Letters 1852 B11/F5  
Letters 1852 B11/F6  
Letters 1853-1854 B11/F7  
Letters 1854 B11/F8  
Letters 1855 B11/F9  
Letters 1856 B11/F10  
Letters 1857 B11/F11  
Letters 1858 January-June B11/F12  
Letters 1858 July-December B11/F13  
Letters 1859 January-September B11/F14  
Letters 1859 October-December B11/F15  
       
Church Vital Statistics, Marriages – "C VS M"
  Date Box/Volume Roll #
RESTRICTED C VS M I – Marriages. Joseph Eckley, pastor 1780-1882 B7/V7
Online interface
4
C VS M Misc. Marriages 1808-1819 B7/E8  
Marriage Certificates 1780-1785 B12/F1  
Marriage Certificates 1786-1788 B12/F2  
Marriage Certificates 1789-1792 B12/F3  
Marriage Certificates 1793-1796 B12/F4  
Marriage Certificates 1797-1800 B12/F5  
Marriage Certificates 1801-1804 B12/F6  
Marriage Certificates 1805-1807 B13/F1  
Marriage Certificates 1808-1811 B13/F2  
Marriage Certificates 1812 B13/F3  
Marriage Certificates 1813-1816 B13/F4  
Marriage Certificates 1817-1818 B13/F5  
Marriage Certificates 1819, 1824 B13/F6  
Marriage Certificates 1821-1823 B13/F7  
Marriage Certificates 1825-1827 B13/F8  
Marriage Certificates 1828-1829 B13/F9  
Marriage Certificates 1830-1832 B13/F10  
RESTRICTED C VS M II — Marriages 1941-1980   6
return to series list
     

Series 2: Church and Society Committees

  Date: 1708-1948
  Extent: 5 boxes, 22 volumes
  Conditions Governing Access: Access to some of the physical items is restricted. When microfilm surrogates exist, they are to be used instead of originals. Exceptions may be granted in cases of extenuating circumstance, at the discretion of the librarian.
  Technical Access: Microfilm reels require the use of a microfilm reader.
  Scope of Series: Contains loose correspondence and reports and bound volumes of meeting minutes and reports.
  Arrangement: The original arrangement of these records made use of abbreviations, which are still listed on several items throughout the collection:
    Church Committee Records C-COM
    Society Committee Records S-COM
    Church Sacramental Contributions C-SAC
    Society Records SR
    Pew Proprietors PROP
    Many volumes are not in a box, however do have labels and beginning/end dates. Note: "SR I - Church & Congregation Society Records Reverse vol.: Also CR I" is located in Series 1, box 1, volume 1. Oversize material is in box 46.
     
Committee Records – "C COM"
  Date Box/Folder
Correspondence to Old South Church Society 1830s-1880s B14/F1
Letters – Discipline 1830s B14/F2
Letters. Dow, Joseph – Discipline 1831 B14/F3
Alderman Society, related correspondence 1829 B14/F4
Letters relating to the case of Justus Lincoln. 1827 B14/F5
Correspondence 1826-1833 B14/F6
Request and thanks for using Old South Church 1825-1835 B14/F7
Letters from churches and Judson's Ordination 1700s-1800s B14/F8
Correspondence to clerks 1832-1881 B14/F9
Correspondence from clerks 1838-1884 B14/F10
Clerk's papers 1813-1890 B14/F11
Park Street Church Formation, Letter. Caleb Bingham, William Thurston 1809 B14/F12
Hilliard, George S. Letters 1854-1855 B14/F13
Letters 1872-1882 B14/F14
Notes 1868-1873 B14/F15
Dedication Service Program 1876 B14/F16
Manning Resignation Notice, Letter 1882 B14/F17
Society meeting Minutes 1829-1834 B14/F18
Council, Society Records 1840s B14/F19
Committee and Meeting Records 1856-1870 B15/F1
Standing Committee Society Reports 1857-1874 B15/F2
General Reports 1838-1899 B15/F3
Building Committee Reports 1875-1876 B15/F4
Chapel Papers 1860, 1866 B15/F5
Leasing Committee, Reports and Correspondence 1855-1857 B15/F6
Prudential Committee Correspondence 1831-1832 B15/F7
Standing Committee, Letters To 1825-1861 B15/F8
Preservation Committee Correspondence 1879 B15/F9
Standing Committee Reports 1835-1886 B15/F10
Standing Committee, Letters From 1870-1891 B15/F11
Standing Committee, Letters To 1862-1880 B15/F12
Admission/dismission letter, Andrew Crosswell's letter to Joseph Sewall and Thomas Prince 1793,
1748
B46
Result of council called by Old South 1674 B46
Request to Old South from Edward Rawson to send delegation to a Synod, photostatic reproduction 1679 B46
 
Church Committee — "C COM"
  Date Box/Volume Roll #
RESTRICTED C COM I — Committee Records 1828-1855 B16/V1 8
RESTRICTED C COM II — Committee Records 1855-1897 B16/V2 8
RESTRICTED C COM III — Committee Records 1897-1906 B16/V3 8
RESTRICTED C COM IV — Committee Records 1906-1911 B16/V4 8
RESTRICTED C COM V — Committee Records 1912-1917 B17/V1 9
RESTRICTED C COM VI — Committee Records 1917-1923 B17/V2 9
RESTRICTED C COM VII — Committee Records 1923-1930 B17/V3 9
RESTRICTED C COM VIII — Committee Records 1930-1937 B18/V1 9
RESTRICTED C COM IX — Committee Records 1937-1945 B18/V2 9
 
Church Sacramental Contributions — "C SAC"
  Date Box/Volume Roll #
RESTRICTED C SAC I — Sacramental Contribution 1708 1708-1798 B18/V3 9
       
Society Records — "SR"; Society Committee — "S COM"
  Date Box/Volume Roll
RESTRICTED SR I — Church & Congregation Society Records
(Reverse vol.: Also CR I)
1735-1768
1669-1766
B1/V1 10
RESTRICTED SR II — Society Minutes, Records 1768-1802 Shelf 4 10
SR II — Society Minutes, Records, photocopy surrogate 1768-1802 Shelf 11  
RESTRICTED S COM & SR III — Votes Orders & Proceedings of the South Church & Congregation. Standing Committee records, some Society votes 1735-1819 Shelf 4 10
S COM & SR III — Votes Orders & Proceedings of the South Church & Congregation. Standing Committee records, some Society votes, bound photocopy surrogate 1735-1819 Shelf 11  
RESTRICTED S COM & SR IV — Society and Standing Committee 1787-1823 Shelf 4 10
S COM & SR IV — Society and Standing Committee, photocopy surrogate 1787-1823 Shelf 11  
RESTRICTED S COM V — Standing Committee 1824-1842 Shelf 4 10
RESTRICTED S COM/SR VI — Standing Committee 1819-1845 Shelf 4 10
S COM/SR VI — Standing Committee, photocopy surrogate 1819-1845 Shelf 11  
RESTRICTED S COM VII — Standing Committee 1842-1862 Shelf 5 11
       
Society Committee — "S COM"; Pew Proprietors — "PROP"
  Date Shelf Roll #
RESTRICTED SR/PROP VIII — Society and Pew Proprietors Records 1845-1866 Shelf 5 11
RESTRICTED S COM IX — Society Standing Committee 1862-1876 Shelf 5 11
RESTRICTED S COM X — Society Records; Standing Committee 1867-1876 Shelf 5 11
RESTRICTED S COM XI — Society Standing Committee 1876-1896 Shelf 5 12
RESTRICTED SR/PROP XII — Society and Pew Proprietor Records 1877-1896 Shelf 5 12
RESTRICTED SR/PROP XIII — Pew Proprietors 1897-1910 Shelf 5 13
RESTRICTED S COM XVI — Society Standing Committee 1897-1911 Shelf 5 13
RESTRICTED SR/PROP XV — Society and Pew Proprietors Records 1911-1923 Shelf 5 13
RESTRICTED S COM XVI — Standing Committee 1911-1923 Shelf 6 14
RESTRICTED SR/PROP XVII — Society and Pew Proprietors Records 1924-19345 Shelf 6 14
RESTRICTED S COM XVIII — Standing Committee 1924-1937 Shelf 6 15
RESTRICTED SR/PROP XIX — Society and Pew Proprietors Records 1936-1948 Shelf 6 15
return to series list
 
continued on page 2

 

 


[1] http://www.oldsouth.org/about/history

[2] Winslow, O. E. And plead for the rights of all; Old South Church Boston, 1669-1969. (1970). Boston: Nimrod Press, 34

[3] Ibid, 129

[4] Ibid, 159-160

[5] http://www.oldsouth.org/about/history

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