Beacon Street Diary

Archives: September 2016

September 30, 2016

Congregational missions reached around the world. In addition to Hawaii, contingencies brought educational and social services to the Asia and the Near East. Many schools founded by missionaries still exist in Turkey, but our story comes from a school in rural Kansas where three students at the Royal Valley Middle School in Mayetta tell the story about an unsung hero, Emma Darling Cushman.

Cushman, an American nurse, saved the lives of thousands of Armenian children during the Armenian genocide. In addition to caring for countless orphans, Cushman served as Acting Consul of the Allies and Neutral Nations, overseeing millions of dollars in relief funds and prisoner exchanges. Their video that documents Cushman's heroism earned the $7,500 Top Prize in International Discovery Award Competition from the Lowell Miliken Center for Unsung Heroes. In addition, the students have been given the honor of providing the inscription on her unmarked headstone at the American Cemetery in Cairo. The students can be commended for their extensive research and interviews.

One stop on their quest was The Congregational Library & Archives. Archivist Jessica Steytler worked with the young researchers and their teacher Nate McAlister to locate significant images from our collection. Jessica tells the story, "The students discovered through our online resources that we had photographs of Emma Darling Cushman, and we were able to provide details on how to request copies of the images that landed in the students' documentary.  While it's our number one priority to make the collections accessible to anyone who wishes to use our resources, being able to assist young researchers is particularly special."

We hope that you get a chance to watch the video; you will be glad that you did.

September 28, 2016

Traffic stops as eager students clamber onto school buses, traveling toward new adventures. Their rides vary in length from 15 minutes to the 2-hour trek that Nate McAlister's students make through the Kansas Prairie (see this Friday's article) but none travel as far as the sons and daughters of missionaries did when they sailed from Hawaii to Boston seeking an formal education. The journey rounding Cape Horn lasted from 5 to 6 months and students, once in North America, were unable to return home for many years.

The voyages, let alone long separations, took their toll on the missionary families and in 1841 a school was founded on the lands of Ka Punahou, named for natural spring discovered centuries before. From the first class of 15 students Punahou has grown to 3,768 students.

No longer just for children of missionaries, the K-12 institution strives to provide unparalleled opportunities to cultivate students' unique interests and talents through rigorous academics, programs in athletics and the arts, and an array of co-curricular opportunities. Punahou boasts of many accomplished graduates including Congregational Library & Archives members and its best known, Barack Obama, 44th American president.

Last month visitors from Punahou made their way to Boston as part of a pilgrimage to trace their early beginnings and found many clues right here at 14 Beacon Street. After a visit at Park Street Church, ACA board member Rich Elliott brought the group to the library. Group member Dita Ramler wrote about their visit in the school's blog.

September 9, 2016

Our reading room will be closed to the public on Monday, September 12th for our board's quarterly meeting.

All of our online resources will be available as usual, and staff members will be in the office to answer questions over the phone or by email.

September 7, 2016

The latest additions to our New England's Hidden Histories program come from two churches that have survived many changes.


Granville, Mass. First Congregational Church records, 1757-1848

This diverse collection contains the expected administrative, membership, and disciplinary records, as well as a handful of ecclesiastical councils, sermons, and essays. There is also a selection of letters from Rev. Lemuel Haynes, the first ordained African American minister, to Rev. Timothy Cooley who was serving as pastor to Granville at the time.


Sturbridge, Mass. Congregational Church records, 1736-1831

Many of the volumes in this collection were transcribed from deteriorating or disorganized original versions by the church's clerks and pastors in order to preserve its history. As such, they are very well organized and indexed, making it easy to find the meeting minutes, membership records, disciplinary cases, correspondence, and other information you might be seeking.


Special Thanks

These digital resources have been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

September 2, 2016

The Congregational Library & Archives will be closed on Monday, September 5th in observance of Labor Day.

All of our online resources will be available as usual. If you have questions for the staff, please send an email or leave a voicemail, and we'll get back to you when we return to the office on Tuesday.