The Congregational Library maintains an extensive archival collection of personal and family papers, manuscripts, as well as church and denominational records, all covering the history of the Congregational Christian tradition from the colonial period to the mid-twentieth century. These materials have been preserved and arranged for their historic value and research potential.
The vast majority of our collection is readily available for research. Please be aware of our policies and procedures when working with original, primary-source documents before coming to the library.
- Smoking, food, and drink are not permitted on the library premises.
- Notes must be taken with pencil.
- Researchers must wear gloves when handling photographs.
- Material is distributed one folder at a time.
- Materials must be returned to the staff by 4:45 pm.
Our archive staff is on hand to consult with you both before and during your visit, to help refine your search and maximize your time. We ask all archival researchers to complete a use application form and talk with reference staff when they arrive; in addition, we will ask for an exit interview when your research is completed.
All archival material is listed in our online catalog, with a brief description and, in nearly all cases, a link to the finding aid for the collection. Finding aids are prepared by archivists to offer researchers general background on the collection, the circumstances behind its creation, and a comprehensive list of the contents and their location on the archive shelves. The complete list of finding aids is extensive, and has been alphabetized for more convenient searching.
Index for Electronic Finding Aids
Finding aids (also called guides) are the tool to finding archival materials. A finding aid includes descriptive information about a collection, its contents, and its creator(s); it also explains how the information contained within it is organized for research.
The finding aids on this website all describe collections held by the Congregational Library. In addition to containing the above descriptive information, finding aids may also include the following useful information:
- A collection's physical size and included formats (e.g. digitized items, photographs, microfilm)
- Use restrictions, if any apply
- Biographical and / or historical notes regarding collection creators
- A summary about a collection's scope and content
- A list of the collection’s contents by container type (e.g. box, folder, microfilm reel)
The Congregational Library's finding aids are generally created on a collection level, meaning they do not contain a list or describe individual items in a collection. Locating specific, individual items in a collection requires in-person review of the collection in question.
Depending on the era in which they were created, the information contained in finding aids can vary. Our archivists make it a point to update finding aids to current standards and processes whenever possible.
This list includes finding aids for processed archival collections with electronic (scanned or web-based) guides. Our online catalog additionally refers to these collections as well as those too small to merit a full guide. Please consider checking both sources to ensure you have found all the information we have on your research topic.
Please contact one of the archivists if you have any questions about how to use these finding aids to access our archival collections. Find out about new or updated finding aids through our news page, blog, Twitter, or Facebook accounts.