Newton, Massachusetts. First Church (Congregational). Records, 1773-1972

Collection Information

First Church (Newton, Mass.) records


First Church (Newton, Mass.)




22 linear feet

Collection ID #:

RG 0132

Conditions Governing Access:


Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the First Church (Newton, Mass.) records, RG 0132. The Congregational Library and Archive, Boston, MA.



Processing information:

Originally processed by Sandra A. Sudak, 1990

Revision History:

Re-processed by Albertina M. Rua, 2003

Acquisition Information:

The First Church records were deposited at the Congregational Library in 1972 after its dissolution.

History of the Church

In 1664, the Great and General Court of Massachusetts gave permission for forty men and forty women to establish or "gather" the First Church of Cambridge Village. Before its establishment, settlers of Cambridge Village attended services and paid taxes to the city of Cambridge. Twenty-four years later, the Village seceded from the city of Cambridge and became the city of Newtown, later spelled Newton. The First Church remained the only organized church in Newton until 1780, when the First Baptist Church was founded. From its founding, the city of Cambridge and later, the city of Newton, raised taxes for the First Church, and the parish held services and town meetings until the early 1830s. In 1833, the city of Newton severed its ties with the First Church, forcing it to raise funds on its own. The First Church would see the construction of several meetinghouses, the last dedicated in 1904. In the 1940s, the First Church discussed merging its services with the Newton Baptist Church. It dissolved in 1972 after more than three hundred years of service to the Newton community.


List of Ministers

Below is a list of the pastors of the First Church, some who served the community for over thirty years.

John Elliot, Jr. 1664-1668    
Nehemiah Hobart 1674-1712    
John Cotton 1714-1757    
Jonas Merriam 1758-1780    
Jonathan Homer 1782-1839 Pastor Emeritus 1839-1845
William Bushnell 1842-1846    
Daniel Furber 1847-1882    
Pastor Emeritus 1882-1899    
Theodore J. Holmes 1883-1893    
Edward M. Noyes 1894-1929 Pastor Emeritus 1929-1939
Dwight J. Bradley 1930-1934    
Jay T. Stocking 1935-1936    
M. Russell Boynton 1936-1953    
Nathanael M. Guptill 1953-1958    
Frank M. Weiskel 1958-1967    
Newell H. Curtis, Jr. 1967-1972    


Scope and Content Note

The bulk of the collection of the First Church consists of official records of the church, including clerk's records and annual reports, information on membership and vital statistics of its members, and the administrative and financial records after 1773. Earlier records of the church were destroyed in a fire in 1770. The auxiliary organizations of the First Church are well-represented in this collection. The records of the Sunday School (founded in 1816) and the Women's Benevolent Society give light into the functioning of special programs and services outside the primary role of the church, such as education and missions. The sermons and papers of the Rev. Daniel Furber and Edward M. Noyes comprise the majority of the ministers' papers. Both Rev. Furber and Noyes were elected Pastor Emeriti after more than thirty years of service to the First Church. The newsletters, which document the church's history in the twentieth-century, are complemented with programs, news-clippings, and photographs that the church collected during special dedications and anniversaries.


Series Description

Series I -- Church Records, 1773-1972. This series contains official church records, such as the record books, clerk's records, annual reports, and membership records. The membership records include information on births, baptisms, deaths, marriages, admissions, and dismissions. Also covenants, constitutions, and by-laws can be found within this series. Duplicates of annual reports in the clerk's records between 1931 and 1968 were discarded; however, the clerk's records of 1941 to 1950 contain the annual reports for those years. The clerk's records for 1892 to 1931, the Standing Committee minutes for 1895 to 1931, and a register of the Church are oversized material, and they are shelved separately from the rest. Each set of documents is arranged in chronological order, maintaining, in most cases, the arrangement of the material by the original processor of this collection.

Two volumes in this series have been digitized as part of our New England's Hidden Histories program.

Series II -- Administrative and Financial Records, 1778-1973. The administrative records of the Church contains minutes of the freeholders' meetings, proprietors' meetings, the Prudential Committee minutes, pew deeds, owners, and proprietor information. All these records were kept. The financial records contain account information and benevolences for the First Church beginning in 1708. The First Church kept expense Vouchers and checks from 1780 to 1903, of which a sampling was kept. The accounts books for the years 1914 to 1964 and some ledgers on benevolences that chronicled the monthly expenses of the church were discarded, as the yearly reports sufficiently describe the financial activities. The records on the property of the church were moved into this series, and they contain the Building Committee papers and reports. Within these records are blueprints of the church. Also included with the records of church property are some letters of donation, deposit, and final disposition of material after 1972. This series is also arranged chronologically, by type of record; however, one volume of the Prudential Committee minutes is shelved with the oversized material.

Series III -- Church Auxiliary Organizations, 1783-1974. This series contains the records, mostly minutes, from the Christian Endeavor, the Sunday School, the Men's Club, the Kelsey Circle, the Maria B. Furber Missionary Society, the Ladies Foreign Missionary Society, and the Woman's (or Ladies) Benevolent and Church Aid Society. The majority are from the Woman's Benevolent Society, which lasted until the dissolution of the church. This series is also arranged chronologically by each organization and then, in some cases, by department or type of record.

Series IV -- Church Publications and Histories, 1841-1967. Samplings of church calendars and all newsletters of the First Church provide a glimpse of current events and announcements between 1894 and 1968. This series also includes programs and news-clippings of special celebrations, such as dedications, inaugurations, and anniversaries. Each set of records is arranged chronologically.

Series V -- Ministers' Papers, 1741-1962. The minister papers of the First Church contain some of the personal papers, some published copies of sermons, and the copy of the programs for the installation of several ministers. Researchers will find news-clippings of material related to the church and to the minister, similarly to Series IV. As stated in the scope and content note, the majority of this collection contains the sermons of Rev. Daniel Furber and Edward M. Noyes. Their papers have been arranged chronologically.

Series VI -- Photos and Memorabilia, 1899-1965. This series contains mostly an assortment of photos of the First Church, of some anniversaries, of certain church properties, and certain events and celebrations of the church. Photos relating to the meetinghouses have been arranged chronologically. Miscellaneous photographs, albums, scrapbooks, and objects have been maintained in the original arrangement of this series.


Box List

Series I -- Church Records, 1773-1972

Box 1
  Record Books 1773-1873
Online interface
  Church Minutes, Covenant, Confession of Faith 1827-1832; 1835
  By-laws 1895; 1956; n. d.
  Clerk's Records 1873-1891; 1932-1935
Box 2
  Samuel Beck correspondences 1964-1966
  Clerk's Records 1936-1955 (gaps)
Box 3
  Clerk's Records 1956-1968 (gaps)
Box 4
  Standing Committee Minutes 1884-1895
  Annual Reports 1898-1970
  Diaconate Board Minutes 1961-1969
  Possible Merger with Newton Baptist Church 1945-1946
  Dissolution of Church 1972
Box 5
  Candidates 1893-1894
  Committee on Pastorate 1893-1894
  Pastoral Committee Minutes 1929; 1953-1954
  Pastoral Committee Minutes and Correspondence 1859-1966 (gaps)
Box 6
  Alphabetical Index to Register early 1900s
  Alphabetical Index to Chronological List n.d.
  Membership Lists 1895-1896; 1899-1903;
1905; 1909; 1921; 1923;
Box 7
  Member List (Deaths and Baptisms) 1835-1838
  Confessions of Faith, Signers of Covenant 1859; 1876; 1882-1895
  Member List 1876; 1891
  Membership Correspondence 1886-1891
  Annual Roll Call 1890-1891
  Signatures of Members 1895-1971
Box 8
  Register 1957-1973
  Absentee Lists 1930s-1940s
  Marriages (marriage certificates and Correspondence) 1938-1953 (gaps)
  Baptisms 1904; 1905; 1910-1934;
  Letters of Dismission 1952-1971
Box 9
  Active Members 1960s
Box 10
  Inactive and Severed Members 1960s
Box 11
  Deaths 1930-1953; 1958-1967
Box 12
  Admissions and Dismissions ca. 1870-1910
  Certificates of Admissions and Dismissions 1869-1891; 1890s-1902
Box 13
  Members List and manuals 1827-1953
  Articles of Faith (Covenant and Memorandum Book) 1859; 1914
  Veterans Lists (War of 1812 and Spanish - American War (1898)) 1918
Box 14
  Membership Applications 1908-1916; 1927-1929
Box 15
  Admissions and Dismissions Certificates 1920s-1950s
Box 16
  Dismissions 1953-1967

Series II -- Administrative and Financial Records, 1778-1973

Box 17
  Warrants for Parish Meetings 1778-1855 (gaps)
  Freeholders' Meeting Minutes, Pew Proprietors 1778-1805
  Freeholders' Meeting Minutes 1806-1846
  Parish Meeting Minutes 1860
  Pewholders and Stockholders Meeting Minutes 1846-1855
  Proprietors of the Meetinghouse Minutes 1855-1895
  Prudential Committee Minutes 1941-1968
  Parish Assessments 1779-1884
  Members Released from Parish Tax ca. 1824-1833
Box 19
  Assessment Statements 1790-1813
  Pews - Correspondence 1805-1886
  Pew Deeds 1847-1852
  Pews - Bills of Sale 1806; 1823
  Pew Deed 1847
  Pews - Bills of Sale ca. 1870-1902
  Pew Plans and Valuations 1847-1888
  Pew Owners 1863-1902
  Pew Proprietors 1868-1896
  Horse Shed Rentals 1857-1894 (gaps)
  Assessment / Subscriptions / Pews and Horses 1839 / 1844 / n. d.
Box 20
  Mortgage / Deed / Insurance 1869 / 1876 / 1870s-1880s
  New Meeting House / Deeds 1804 / 1816-1817
  Mortgage and Deeds 1890-1930
  Bonds of Parish Collector 1784-1811 (gaps)
  Expense Vouchers (samples)  
  Treasurer's Account Book 1795-1846
  Account Book 1708-1778; 1779-1795;
1796-1817; 1804-1808
  Pew Accounts Expenses 1862-1895
  Expense Book 1888-1895
  Cash Journal 1895-1897
  Pledges 1895-1904
  Receipts and Expenses 1780-1904
Box 21
  Receipts and Expenses 1896-1909
  Subscribers 1935-1943
  Finance Committee Budgets 1924-1954 (gaps)
  Canvass Materials (samples) 1938-1959
  Endowments and Bequests 1912-1935 (gaps)
  Receipts of Edmund Trowbridge [executor] 1786-1804
  Memorial Window Fund Account Book 1912-1914
  Communion Collections 1883-1888
  Benevolence Receipts and Expenses 1870-1888
  Benevolence Expenses, Pledges 1901-1911
  Benevolence Committee Minutes and Correspondence 1953-1954
Box 22
  Report on Church Property and Correspondence 1896-1956
  Dispositions of Church Property 1972-1974
  Building Committee Papers 1785-1805; 1846-1847;
1869; 1884; 1912; 1914
  Building Committee Reports, Minutes, Correspondence 1804-1806; 1869;
  Reports and Corresp. on Various Additions to Church 1912-1953

Series III -- Church Auxiliary Organizations, 1783-1974

Box 23
  Servicemen and women in WWII (1941-1945)  
    Lists, Citations, and Correspondence 1944-1948
  Servicemen and women in WWII  
    Correspondence (sampling) 1942-1945
  Christian Endeavor  
    Constitution, Minutes, Members 1887-1891
    Minutes, Annual Reports, and Members 1896-1904
Box 24
    Constitutions / Minutes / Attendance 1896; 1908 / 1905-1912 /
    Y.P.S.C.E. Bulletin 1894-1895
    Y.P.S.C.E. Missionary Committee Reports 1907; 1912-1913
    Christian Endeavor Auxiliaries 1897-1901
  Sunday School  
    Attendance Books 1873-1876; 1916-1923
    Minutes 1854-1866
    Superintendent's Record Book 1867-1874
Box 25
    Superintendent's Record Book 1875-1885
    Origin of Sunday School (copy) / Gifts and Letters to Sunday School 1863; ca. 1860-1890
  Men's Club  
    Correspondence and Annual Meeting Reports 1939-1953
    Correspondence and Scrapbook 1939-1940
  Andover-Newton Theological School Students 1962 - 1965
  Laity Sunday Sermons 1943-1963 (gaps)
  Conscientious Objector David Pierce 1964
  Missions, Missionaries, and Refugees Correspondence 1900-1; 1920s; 1937-1941;
Box 26
  Kelsey Circle Minutes and Members 1938(?)-1967
  Maria B. Furber Missionary Society  
    Minutes and Constitution 1883-1919
Box 27
    Minutes 1959-1967
    Treasurer's Book 1883-1918
  Ladies Foreign Missionary Society Minutes 1887-1918
  Ladies (later Women's) Benevolent and Church Aid Society  
    Foreign Missionary Department Minutes 1918-1924
    Home Missionary Department Minutes 1899-1931
    Minutes and Members 1861-1926
    Choice recipes from members and friends of the Women's Benevolent Society 1939
Box 28
    Minutes 1926-1972
    Annual Reports 1956-1959; 1962-1968
    Bequests 1930s-1970s
    Histories 1909; 1919; 1939(?); 1974
    Constitutions and By-Laws n. d.; 1914; 1946; 1958;
ca. 1967-1968
    Directory and Pamphlets ca. 1916-1928; 1955-1972
    Little Women's Mission Minutes and Members 1876-1881
    Ladies Furnishing Committee Minutes 1903-1906
    Sewing Committee - Expenses 1939-1942
    Sewing Committee - Reports 1943-1947
    Friendly Service Sewing Committee Reports 1947-1972
    Reading Committee Minutes and Members 1946-1960
Box 29
    LBCAS General Treasurer's Account 1899-1930
    WBS Dues and Contributions 1928-1937
    WEB Dues and Members ca. 1930
    LBCAS Account Book 1894-1920
    Home Missionary Department Account Book 1905-1920
    LBCAS General Expense Fund 1910-1920
    WBCAS Treasurer's Report 1920-1974
    Finance Committee Minutes and Reports 1959-1971
    Disposition of Assets 1971-1974
    WBS Yearbooks 1916-1918; 1924-1971
    Correspondence 1783-1869 (gaps)

Series IV -- Church Publications and Histories, 1841-1967

Box 30
  Church Calendars (sampling) 1894-1919
  "The Welcome" 1921-1935 (gaps)
  Church Calendars (sampling) 1936-1968
Box 31
  "Church News" 1939 -1967
  Meeting House Dedication / 225th Anniversary Bulletin 1870; 1889
  Miscellaneous Fliers 1841; 1876
  The Commemorative Services . . . 275th Anniversary (book) 1890
  240th Anniversary Dedication of New Building 1903-1904
Box 32
  250th Anniversary Programs and News-clips 1914
  Committee of the 250th Anniversary Record Book 1912-1914
  275th Anniversary  
    Historical Addresses and Correspondence 1939
    Preaching Mission and Correspondence 1939-1940
    Programs, News-clips, and Photos 1939
    Banquet Ticket List and Fund 1939
  300th Anniversary  
    Committee Minutes and Correspondence 1962-1964
    Addresses 1964
    Programs, News-clips, and Photos 1964
  50th Anniversary of David Ralph Maclean (organist) 1963
  Programs for Special Occasions and Dedications 1905; 1943; 1951;
1962; 1971

Series V -- Ministers' Papers, 1741-1962

Box 33
  John Cotton (1714-1757) -- Election Sermon 1753
  Sermon Preached at Newton, by Nathanael Appleton 1741
  Jonathan Homer (1782-1839)  
    Letter of Agreement 1839
    Sermons 1785-1791; 1816; 1828
    Diary 1809-1817; 1824
  William Bushnell -- Funeral Sermon for E. F. Woodard 1846
  Daniel Furber  
    Sermons 1847-1860
Box 34
    Sermons 1861-1899
Box 35
    Addresses and Letters 1830s; 1859; n. d.
    Memorial and Funeral Services 1897; 1899
    Jubilee of the Pastorate of Daniel Little Furber 1897
    The Addresses Delivered at the Funeral Service of Rev. Daniel Little Furber 1900
    A Sermon in Memory of Mrs. Maria Brigham Furber 1883
    Account Book 1850-1898
    Travel Diary 1869
    Diary and Letters from Abroad 1869-1870
    Published Addresses and Sermons 1863-1898 (gaps)
    Albumin Prints (cabinet cards) 1847-1891(?)
    Daguerreotypes n. d.
Box 36
  Theodore J. Holmes  
    Sermons and Biographical Sketch 1893; n. d.; 1938
    Sermons (sampling) 1883-1893
  Edward M. Noyes  
    Sermons 1889-1900
    Sermons 1890s-1910 (gaps)
Box 37
    Sermons 1908 - 1921 (gaps)
Box 38
    Sermons 1910-1918
    Record of the Congregation 1894-1895
    Correspondence 1938-1939
    Noyes Memorial Window 1941
    Memorabilia 1894-1939
  Dwight J. Bradley -- Installation and Published Sermons 1928-1933
  Jay T. Stocking  
    Installation, Sermons, and Funeral Service 1923-1936
    Scrapbook 1936
    "Dr. Stocking: A Memorial" Scrapbook 1936
  Russell M. Boynton  
    Installation, Sermons, Memorial Service, and Photos 1936-1953
    Sermons for 275th Anniversary 1939
Box 39
    Beach Lectures - Bangor Theological Seminary 1946
  Nathanael M. Guptill -- Installation, Biography, and Photo 1953-1958
  Frank Weiskel  
    Installation and Photos 1958-1967
    Sermons 1961-1962

Series VI -- Photos and Memorabilia, 1899-1965

Box 40
  Drawing of Old Meetinghouse (by Sarah F. Clarke) 1889
  5th Meeting House Interior 1891-1892; 1896;
1908; n. d.
  5th Meetinghouse Exterior n. d.; 1899; 1902
  5th Meetinghouse Tearing Down 1902-1903
  6th Meetinghouse Cornerstone and Construction 1901; 1903-1904; 1909
  Groundbreaking for Chapel (?) 1949
  6th Meetinghouse Interior, Exterior 1960s(?); 1967(?)
  300th Anniversary Photos 1964
  Photos of Communion Silver and Memorials 1949; 1961
  Canvass Pictures 1958
  Various Photos and Drawings of Members and Ministers 1900 - 1950
  Photographs of Rev. Furber and Boynton 1847-1890s; 1954
  Choir 1941(?)
  Church Sunday School (300th Anniversary) 1964
  Choir 1954
  Membership Class 1959-1965
  Scrapbook 1942-1946
  Ward / Paul / Kingsbury Albums 1870s
  5th Meetinghouse Metal Block Cut n. d.
  Musical Score Metal Block Cut n. d.
  6th Meetinghouse Glass Plates n. d.
Oversized Material
  Clerk's Records 1892-1910; 1910-1931
  Standing Committee Minutes 1895-1929; 1929-1931
  Register (Members, Baptisms, and Dismissals / Deaths) 1664-1968
  Prudential Committtee Minutes 1895-1931


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