The reverberations of founding a library
The intentions and aspirations of dedicated founders can reverberate over the life of an institution.
In April 1854, Rufus Anderson, Joseph S. Clark, and Julius A. Palmer petitioned the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to incorporate the Congregational Library Association. They hoped this new organization would establish and perpetuate “a library of the religious history and literature of New England,” and support “the erection of a suitable building.” The Commonwealth obliged and the Congregational Library was born.
The three associates might have secured the legal structure which allowed the Congregational Library to exist, but the library’s heart had begun to beat the year previous through the efforts of others. In 1853, eight donors gave 56 books, pamphlets, periodicals, and manuscripts as an initial collection for the library. The donors included Congregational ministers, a lawyer, and a widow. Revs. George Richards, Preston Cummings, and Nathaniel Hewitt gave books they had authored (or which were written about them). John Wingate Thornton, Esq. and Rev. Alexander McClure contributed selections from their valuable personal collections. Mary Wheelwright Codman ensured the fruition of her late husband’s dream for the creation of such a library through her donation. A passion for gathering and preserving evidence of the two-century Congregational Story united them then - and continues to inspire the library today.
The founding collection reveals how Congregationalists thought about their faith and history at an important point in the mid-nineteenth century. Just a year prior, Congregationalists dissolved their union with American Presbyterians and formed themselves as an independent denomination. Many of the books they collected were over one hundred years old, although some more recent publications served as reference works. London had been the center of Protestant printing in the seventeenth century, and donors gathered English books accordingly. Overwhelmingly, however, they focused on Boston imprints. Nearly two-thirds of the collection had been published in Boston. As would be expected of a new library, the collection included printed books, but there were also a few manuscripts, including a 1723 common-place book. The initial collection was far from comprehensive; a copy of the 1841 Catalogue of Dr Williams’s Library in London showed them what a Protestant library could become over time.
In the 170 years since this founding collection was first shelved, the library has grown. The Congregational Library & Archives now holds more than 225,000 items, both print and manuscript. It has significantly expanded its representation of a diversity of perspectives within Congregationalism’s four hundred years in North America. The voices of women, African Americans, and other historically marginalized populations are difficult to find within the original collection but today are an active focus for collecting.
Themes and ideas present within the original collection resonate with the library’s collection today. Increase and Cotton Mather stand tall over the original collection, and now the library holds a unique collection of Matheriana, including a run of Spider Man comics. Print sermons made up a third of the original collection; now the CLA holds a unique collection of more than 15,000 sermons, both print and manuscript. Works on slavery, temperance, and education speak to contemporary societal concerns, an ongoing area of interest for the library. Only four of the 56 donated works were manuscripts, but today more than half of the collection is archival. And just as there was a clear interest in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries among the first donors, today’s library supporters are just as fascinated by founding moments of the American experience.
For this online exhibition, the staff of the Congregational Library & Archives have selected works from the Founding 56 to explore connections, parallels, and continuities between the moment of the library’s founding in 1853 and what it has become 170 years later. History, provenance, or subject matter variously inspired the staff to learn more about these titles at the time of their creation, their collection in 1853, and what they have to say in 2023. The selected works are presented in order of appearance in the original “Catalogue of Books Belonging to the Congregational Library Association.” Interspersed is a transcription of the other titles in the original listing and, where possible, a link to a digitized copy of the work. At the end of the exhibition you will find a list of the 56 most recent additions to the collection.
We encourage you to dig deeper into those unexplored titles and see what reverberations you find in your own lives today.
By Zachary Bodnar and Kyle Roberts
1. Common-place Book of Rev. Thos Weld, ms. 4to 1723; presented by [John Wingate Thornton] esq.
Title: Thomas Weld commonplace book, 1723
Creator: Thomas Weld
Date of Creation: 1723
Donor: John Wingate Thornton
Commonplace books are akin to scrapbooks, but instead of images and clippings, they typically include handwritten notes, copies of proverbs and maxims, quotes, prayers, recipes, and all sorts of other written notes. This particular commonplace book was kept by Thomas Weld (1702-1757) during his time at Harvard College in 1723. Weld would later become the minister at the Congregational churches in Upton and Middleborough, Massachusetts. The front half of the book contains notes on various subjects and topics, mostly of a religious nature and presumably related to Weld’s experiences at Harvard. The back half is a small glossary of terms in alphabetical order. Of note is that different handwriting appears in the latter half of the book; it is presumed that the first half is written in Weld’s handwriting while it is unknown who else may have written in this book. One possibility is that the later writing belonged to the donor to the library, John Wingate Thornton (1818-1878), who received this volume while he was also a student at Harvard.
In 1853: Sometime after Thomas Weld’s death, the commonplace book was gifted to John Fairfield (1797-1847), a politician from Maine. Fairfield later gifted it to his nephew, John Wingate Thornton, who was studying at Harvard. Years later, Thornton, an antiquarian, donated the item to the Congregational Library, likely due to the Harvard and Congregational connections.
In 2023: Personal diaries and commonplace books offer an incredible, and sometimes unfiltered, look into the personal and mental lives of their creators. Though manuscript materials made only a small part of the library’s original collection, 4 of the original 56 works, the archive at the Congregational Library has only continued to grow over the years and now the memories and insights found within manuscript materials, like commonplace books, make up a significant portion of the library’s collection today.
By Zachary Bodnar
2. Ms. Sermon of Rev. Seth Storer of Watertown, Mass. 1724, prd by [John Wingate Thornton]
3. New England Psalms and Hymns, 17th ed. Lond. 1729, 16mo. Presented by Rev. [Alexander] W. McClure.
4. Cheever’s Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1620. 8vo N. York 1848; presented by the same.
5. The Bi-Centennial Book of Malden, 8 vo. 1850. Presented by the same.
6. Dr. I. Mather’s Election Sermon for 1702, 16 mo. Presented by the same.
7. Dr. C. Mather’s Utilia. Eight Essays upon important subjects, 12 mo. Boston, 1716. Presented by [Alexander W. McClure].
Title: Utilia, Real and vital religion served, in the various & glorious intentions of it. With eight essays upon important subjects, which have a serviceable aspect upon it
Creator: Cotton Mather
Date of Creation: 1716
Imprint: Boston: Printed by T. Fleet & T. Crump, for Daniel Henchman, at the Corner Shop over against the Brick Meeting-House
Donor: Alexander W. McClure
The year 1716 held special significance for Cotton Mather (1663-1728) as the year he believed would bring the “final harvest” of souls and thereby, Christ’s return to set up His millennial kingdom. Mather’s sermons at the time, emphasizing key tenets of Christian perseverance and questions that often caused stumbling blocks, were intended to assist believers through the perils of the last days and prepare them for the millennium.
Utilia gathers eight sermons written and preached by Mather the previous. Each was an address to the unconverted and offered numerous examples of practical piety and encouragement for everyday people attempting to believe in God in the face of the trials, difficulties, and mysteries they faced daily. A preface, written by Increase Mather and some preliminary notes, explain the reason for the collection’s publication.
In 1853: This book would have continued to be a spiritual aid for Christian faith long after 1716. As the title implies, and as Mather states, “real, vital piety” put to practical use was a notion he admired in the work of German Pietist, August Hermann Francke.
In 2023: With a revived interest in Mather since the recent publication of the Biblia Americana, this book offers an interesting snapshot into Mather’s thinking and preparations in the year before Mather’s great disappointment that 1716 did not bring the Second Coming.
By Helen Gelinas
8. Fisher’s Marrow of Modern Divinity, 12 mo. Boston, 1743. Presented by [Alexander W. McClure].
9. Mr. Rutherfoord’s Letters, 12 mo. Printed in the year 1671. Presented by the same.
10. Wadsworth’s Essay on the Decalogue, 12mo. Boston 1719. Presented by the same.
11. The Duty of Parent to pray for their Children, by Dr. I. Mather, 12 mo. Boston 2d ed. 1719. Presented by the same.
12. Remarkables of Dr. I. Mather. 12 mo. (Defective). Presented by [Alexander W. McClure].
Title: Parentator. Memoirs of remarkables in the life and the death of the ever-memorable Dr. Increase Mather. Who expired, August 23. 1723
Creator: Cotton Mather
Date of Creation: 1724
Imprint: B. Green, for Nathaniel Belknap, at the Corner of Scarlets Wharff
Donor: Alexander W. McClure
Additional Notes: The copy held today by the CLA is not the original copy donated in 1853, but a later purchase.
Memoirs of Remarkables' is Cotton Mather’s (1663-1728) biography of his father’s life. Part memoir, part religious text, the book feels at moments as much a defense of Increase Mather (1639-1723) as a memorial and a record of the significant events in his life. The book begins with Increase’s birth, details his journey of faith, summarizes important historical events in which he played a role in Old and New England, and ends with a bibliography of his published works. Throughout, the sondepicts his father as a good man of great faith, writing that “If the Parent be a Man of Worth, it is on all Hands Agreed, that the Commemoration may be Proportionable.”
This book was published only months after Increase Mather’s death, when his life and work was fresh in the memory of New Englanders. Cotton Mather’s quick writing and publication of Memoirs allowed him to establish the lens through which he wished others to remember his father for centuries to come.
In 1853: The Mathers were one of the most influential families during the first century of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Early donors believe a library dedicated to preserving the Congregational story would have been missing an important piece of that story without a copy of Cotton Mather’s memoir of his father’s life.
In 2023: Interest in the Mathers continues, even in 2023. Among the Congregational Library & Archives’ audiences, programs such as our February 2023 “New Light on Cotton Mather” discussion are still incredibly popular. Scholars regularly access our online Research Guide detailing the Mather resources in our collections, and the announcement of new Mather materials available online through the New England’s Hidden Histories program are always received with excitement. Visitors of all ages remain eager to see the CLA’s copies of the Marvel Team Up comics featuring Cotton Mather as the villain.
By Lauren Lemley
13. C. Mather’s Discourses on the LORD=S Supper. 12 mo. 1691 (Def.). Presented by [Alexander W. McClure].
Title: A companion for communicants: discourses upon the nature, the design, and the subject of the Lords Supper, with devout methods of preparing for, and approaching to, that blessed ordinance
Creator: Cotton Mather
Date of Creation: 1690
Imprint: Samuel Green for Benjamin Harris at the London Coffee House
Donor: Alexander W. McClure
Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was a leading voice in New England puritanism. He served as minister of the Old North Meeting House in Boston for more than four decades, and it was to this congregation that he dedicated his book on communion. As one of only a few sacraments observed by Congregationalists, the Lord’s Supper was an important element of worship and religious identity for seventeenth-century puritans, and few figures at the time had greater standing to speak on this topic than Mather. For Mather, “Well built Christians'' needed “Well-ordered Approaches to the Table of the Lord'' to maintain “a most Intimate Fellowship with the Redeemer of your Souls; and that every one of your Souls may be bound in the Bundle of Life with the Lord your God.” To prepare them, Mather focuses on two primary topics: the importance of individual preparation for taking communion and critical considerations for participating in the Lord’s Supper.
In 1853: Among the books in the Congregational Library’s original 1853 collection, only communion, baptism, and covenant recur as the focus of multiple titles. As Congregationalists gathered the books that would preserve the history of their religious tradition in 1853, it is logical that they would turn to Cotton Mather’s work on one of the few sacraments that were foundational to early New England Congregationalism.
In 2023: Communion, as all elements of worship with potential liturgical connections, remains a matter of discussion for Congregational churches in 2023. Reflecting on Mather’s work through a contemporary lens reminds us of the tension some Congregationalists continue to feel about prioritizing the Lord’s Supper without undermining its significance through a turn toward liturgies that for centuries have been viewed as potentially reducing the gravity and sincerity of its observance through reliance on repetition.
By Lauren Lemley
14. Dr. I. Mather=s Order of the Gospel, in New-England, 12 mo. 1700. Presented by [Alexander W. McClure].
15. The Workes of Rev. Robert Bolton 4to, Lond. 1641. Presented by the same.
16. Morton’s New England Memorial 12 mo. Boston 1742. Prestd by Rev. A. W. McClure.
17. Dyer’s Mount Zion, 12 mo. Lond. 1689. Presented by the same.
18. Knowles’s Memoir of Roger Williams. 12mo. Boston, 1834. Presented by the same.
19. N. Mather’s Two Sermons on Rom. III. 22 16 mo. (Def.) Presented by the same.
20. Josephi Medi Clavis Apocalyptica. 4to Cantabr. [Angl.] 1649. Also, Para-Laiponence. 1650. Holiness of Churches. And, Opuscula Lat. in Apoc. 1652. Likewise, Diss. Eccles. Triga 1653. Presented by [Alexander W. McClure].
Title: Clavis apocalyptica: ex innatis & insitis visionum characteribus eruta & demonstrata una cum commentario in Apocalypsin: quibus accessit hac tertia editione conjectura de Gogo & Magogo ab eodem autoreL ad eorum usum quibus Deus amorem studiumq[um] indiderit prophetiam illam admirandam cognoscendi scrutandique
Creator: Joseph Mede
Date of Creation: 1649
Imprint: Cambridge. England: R. Daniel
Donor: Alexander W. McClure
Clavis Apocalyptica was originally published in 1627 and translated into English in 1643 as Key of Revelation Searched and Demonstrated. It was a widely influential work on the interpretation of the Book of Revelations which posited that Revelations could be understood as a chronological description of events at the end of the world. It predicted the world would end by 1716, but possibly as early as 1654. Following Judgement Day, there would be a period of a thousand years of peace on earth.
Millenarianism, the belief that a period of peace would precede the final Judgement, was relatively rare at the time that Joseph Mede (1586-1638), an English Biblical Scholar at Christ’s College in Cambridge, wrote Clavis Apocalyptica. Some consider this work to be a counter to Scepticism which made it particularly influential.
This edition of the book features a large fold out depicting the timeline of the apocalypse and has 4 other works by Mede bound with it. Mede’s works had a tremendous influence on such leading thinkers as Thomas Goodwin, Pierre Jiroeu, and Isaac Newton.
In 1853: Because of its influence on Puritan theologians like Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680), it is not surprising that the Clavis Apocalyptica would be seen as an essential reference to have on hand at the library. The failed calculations of Baptist minister William Miller (1782-1849) and his followers of the end of the world still reverberated a decade later, a reminder of ongoing popular interest in Millenarianism.
In 2023: Joseph Mede is just one of many English theologians represented within the Congregational Library’s collections. These works include treatises from Puritans like Richard Baxter and William Twisse, but also from many contemporaneous anglican pastors. The library’s collecting practices follow a similar ethos in 2023. We remain interested in collecting not just works of Congregationalists, but also works that contain ideas they may be reacting against or viewpoints that may be informing their thinking.
By Sara Trotta
21. T[homas] F[uller]=s Sovereign=s Perogative and Subject=s Priviledge, sm. fol. Lond. 1657. Presented by [Alexander W. McClure].
Title: The sovereigns prerogative, and the subjects privilege; discussed betwixt courtiers and patriots in Parliament, the third and fourth years of the reign of King Charles: together with the grand mysteries of state then in agitation
Creator: Thomas Fuller
Date of Creation: 1657
Imprint: London: Printed for Martha Harrison
Donor: Alexander W. McClure
Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) was a prolific English Churchman, historian and preacher known for his wit. Although he was an Anglican with Royalist sympathies during the Civil War, Fuller’s writing often takes a more moderate approach as he also had Roundhead patrons.
Sovereign’s Prerogative was originally published as Ephemeris Parliamentaria in 1654. This work is comprised of documents, edited by Fuller, related to the Parliamentary session that precipitated King Charles I’s dissolution of Parliament and the English Civil War. This Parliament was instrumental in establishing many legal concepts that would later be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution such as restrictions on taxation and regulations about not quartering soldiers in private homes.
Although Sovereigns Prerogative was published some 25 years after the events it described, it appeared in print at a critical point in the interregnum period. It encouraged readers to reflect on the values and norms that united England prior to the civil war and analyze the events leading up to it.
In 1853: The English Civil War was a critical event to understand for Congregationalists interested in their own religious and civil history. The type of reflection Fuller encouraged meshed well with the project Congregationalists took in founding a library. This sort of analysis may have provided a useful lens through which to understand a younger nation on the brink of its own civil war.
In 2023: While the Congregational Library has works covering the breadth of Congregational history in its collections, current collecting practices focus primarily on the American Congregational story. The inclusion of Fuller’s work in the original collection suggests that the library’s founders placed much greater emphasis on key points in Congregational history stretching back across the pond.
By Sara Trotta
22. Acts of Parliament, passed between 1692 & 1757, fol. (Defect.) Presented by [Alexander W. McClure].
23. Prince’s Christian History for 1743, 8vo Boston, 1744. (one vol.) Presentd thro= Dr. Waterbury.
24. Two Essays on Baptismal Piety. 12 mo Boston, 1727. Prested by [John Wingate Thornton], Esq.
25. Graham’s Sermon on renewing the Baptismal Covenant, 12mo. Bost. 1734. Presented by the same.
26. Elder Snow, on Free Communion, 12 mo. Greenfield, 1804. Bost. 1815. Presented by the same.
27. Thompson on Judas Iscariot, 12 mo. Boston, 1771. Presented by the same.
28. Watts’s Christian Discipline, or Character of a polite Young Gentleman, 12 mo. Boston. Presented by the same.
29. Meditations upon the Humanity of CHRIST, 12 mo. (no title-page). Presented by the same.
30. An Ordination Charge, by W. Prior, 12 mo. Boston, 1748. Presd by J. W. Thornton, Esq.
31. Two Sermons, by Josiah Smith, V.D.M. 12mo. Boston, 1745. Presented by the same.
32. Straker’s Catalogue of Theol. Books, &c 12mo. Lond. 1850. Presented by the same.
33. A choice drop of Honey &c. by T. Wilcocks. 12mo. Boston, 1803. Presented by [John Wingate Thornton].
Title: A choice drop of honey from the rock Christ: or, A short word of advice to all saints and sinners
Creator: Thomas Wilcocks
Date of Creation: 1803
Imprint: Boston: E. Lincoln, Water-Street
Donor: John Wingate Thornton
Thomas Wilcocks (1622-1687) may have first discussed this work while he was preaching out of his home for a small Particular Baptist congregation in London in the mid-seventeenth century.
In this work, Wilcocks explains that while an individual may be targeted by passing ideologies and contemporaneous ideas, the reader should always remember that the one source to trust in is the Lord. As the work continues, Wilcocks describes to his readers that external noise will lead to a damaged soul. Those who indulge in those noises will be met by God’s wrath on Judgment Day. Ultimately, Wilcocks argues that those who keep their head down and stick to the teachings of the Gospel will be protected from the damning influence of external voices and ideas.
A witness to both the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London, Wilcocks’s message to trust in God and shut out external noises may have been a calming force for the people of London in the wake of those disasters.
In 1853: The library was given a copy of the fifteenth edition from 1803, indicating that its central message continued to resonate with people. With the turmoil caused by the nation’s increasing sectional division, the donor, John Wingate Thorton, may have thought that Wilcocks’s message would be a valuable resource for pastors and laity to study.
In 2023: Wilcocks’s wariness against philosophical fads and trending ideologies and trust in the word of God through the Gospel continues to resonate with our current culture of partisanship and diversity of beliefs. One can imagine Wilcocks writing the same pamphlet today in response to propagation of ideas across the internet and over the airwaves. New editions of his treatise are still being published today.
By Billy McCarthy
34. Dunbar’s Sermon on Brotherly Love, 8vo. Boston, 1749; & Townsend’s Caveat against strife, Bost. 1749, in one v. 8vo
35. McClintock’s ms. Letter. Mr. A. Haines. Presented by [John Wingate Thornton].
36. Advice to the Churches &c. 12mo. Boston, 1702. Presented by the same. (J. W. T. esq.)
37. Result of a Council at Grafton, Oct. 2d. 1744. Presented by the same.
38. Funeral Sermon for Ebenr Hancock, 8vo. (No title-page.) Presented by the same.
39. Funeral Sermon for Mrs. Hannah Williams, 8vo Boston, 1746. Presented by [John Wingate Thornton].
Title: The Divine promises considered, and the duty of Christians to be followers of those, who thro' faith & patience, inherit them. : A funeral discourse occasion'd by the death of Mrs. Hannah Williams, the pious consort of the Reverend Mr. William Williams, Pastor of the Church of Christ in Weston. Who went to her everlasting rest, Lord's-Day morning, December 29th 1745. In the 58th year of her age. : Published at the request of many of the hearers, desirous to keep alive the memory and example of the deceased
Creator: Rev. William Williams
Date of Creation: 1746
Imprint: Boston: J. Draper for D. Gookin
Donor: John Wingate Thornton
Additional Notes: The Congregational Library & Archives has the records of the First Congregational Church in Weston, including some in Rev. Williams’ hand, as well as the records of Hannah Williams’s father’s church in Northampton, which have been digitized as part of our New England’s Hidden Histories project.
This work is a published funeral sermon for Hannah Stoddard Williams (1687-1745), delivered by her husband William Williams (1688-1760), minister of the First Congregational Church in Weston, Massachusetts. Like many minister’s wives in early New England, Hannah was also the daughter of a minister, Solomon Stoddard (1643-1729) of Northampton.
In the sermon, Williams said that Hannah was “greatly favour’d of God'' and that she had been “a great Blessing to me, and to my House, and to this Town.” He praised her for being “faithful, kind, and self-denying” as well as for “keeping every Person and Thing, as much as possible, in their own Order, Place, and Business” in the household. Williams reported that Hannah’s last words were “Now let my Spirit depart in Peace.”
This funeral sermon was likely published as an example of a virtuous and pious life for Congregational women to follow. Funeral sermons of significant community figures were often printed for sale upon their death. Far fewer were printed about women, and those typically about the wives of ministers or wealthy merchants.
In 1853: One of several funeral sermons in the original collection, they were still a popular genre in the mid-nineteenth century. This is also the only item on the list about a woman; no books on the 1853 list are known to have been written by women.
In 2023: Today, the CLA holds over one hundred funeral sermons about women printed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They contain some of the only biographical information about New England Congregational women from this period, and sometimes provide scholars looking for women’s voices with a record of their own words.
By Tricia Peone
40. Ms. Letter of Rev. S. Macclintock. Presented by Mr. Haines.
41. Account of Africa, & Slave-trade, 8vo Phil- 1763. Presd by [John Wingate] Thornton, Esq.
Title: A short account of that part of Africa, inhabited by the Negroes; with respect to the fertility of the country; the good disposition of many of the natives, and the manner by which the slave trade is carried on. Extracted from several authors, in order to shew the iniquity of that trade, and the falsity of the arguments usually advanced in its vindication. With a quotation from George Wallis's [i.e. Wallace's] System of the laws, &c. and a large extract from a pamphlet, lately published in London, on the subject of the slave trade
Creator: Anthony Benezet
Date of Creation: 1762
Imprint: Philadelphia: Printed by W. Dunlap
Donor: John Wingate Thornton
Quaker schoolmaster Anthony Benezet (1713-1784) learned about the indignities facing enslaved Africans firsthand from teaching Black children in his Philadelphia home. His influential Short Account goes beyond offering a religious critique of the society that allowed slavery to thrive; it exhaustively describes West African societies, from which many people were enslaved, as a means to rebut racist myths about Africans and to expose the brutalities of the slave trade. Coming out of a tradition of Quaker anti-slavery activism, Benezet used religious networks and printing to bring attention to the inhumanity of the Atlantic slave trade and became one of the eighteenth-century North America’s most prominent abolitionists.
This copy of Benezet’s classic was likely owned by William Cordwell, Jr (1756-1813) of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Whether this text inspired Cordwell to anti-slavery thinking on the eve of the American Revolution can only be imagined.
In 1853: No reform movement was more omnipresent (or more divisive) among Americans in 1853 than abolition. In collecting Benezet’s Short Account, the library’s founders ensured the collection held a cornerstone text of the abolition movement. Its presence as the only book on abolition in the collection, however, raises questions about the decision not to include more recent titles.
In 2023: While the Civil War brought slavery to an end in the United States, it did not eradicate the systemic racism which undergirded the pernicious system. Today, the CLA collects many books which wrestle with the legacy of this history and how it continues to shape American society.
By Kyle Roberts
42. View of the New Engl. Illuminati, 8vo, Phila 1799. Presented by [John Wingate Thornton].
Title: A view of the New-England Illuminati who are indefatigably engaged in destroying the religion and government of the United States, under a feigned regard for their safety, and under an impious abuse of true religion
Creator: John Cosens (Cozzens) Ogden
Date of Creation: 1799
Imprint: James Carey, No. 16, Chesnut-Street, Philadelphia
Donor: John Wingate Thornton
Additional Notes: Though the CLA still owns the original copy donated in 1853, it has remained uncataloged all this time.
This pamphlet was a response to other writings that spoke of an international conspiracy that backed the Democratic-Republican Party in the United States. John Ogden branded these printed conspiracies as complaints from the “New-England Illuminati.” He stated that Connecticut, in particular, had become an ecclesiastical state, “ruled by the President of the College, as a Monarch” and then went on to write about New England colleges and the troubles he saw within each. For example, he wrote that John Wheelock, then President of Dartmouth College, had “made [Dartmouth] an engine for the Illuminati, polemic divinity, party politics, Edwardian discipline, missions, and the Millennium.”
Published in 1799, this pamphlet was just one pamphlet in a sea of political writing during the lead up to the 1800 presidential election. Both Democratic-Republicans and Federalists readily used the press to engage in political muckraking, and Ogden’s attacks against New England Federalists marks him as a Republican partisan.There is no evidence that any retaliatory pamphlets were published in response.
In 1853: The year before the 1852 presidential election saw the implosion of the Whig Party which gave the Democrats control of the legislative and executive branches. The fervor of the election might have brought this pamphlet back to prominence.John Wingate Thorton, the pamphlet’s donor, may have also recognized that the pamphlet would be a useful resource for pastors writing sermons during contentious political climates.
In 2023: While the names of political parties, the specifics of political differences, and the shape of conspiracy theories have changed over time, inflammatory political attacks have remained a consistent hallmark of US politics. It is not hard to imagine Ogden’s writings being adapted into a social media post or read before a political rally in 2023.
By Billy McCarthy
43. Funeral Discourse ^ by Rev. G. Richards on Rev. W. M. Rogers 8vo. 1851. Presented by the Rev. [George Richards].
44. Sermon at Ordinn of Rev. W. H. Gilbert, 8vo 1851, by Rev. G. Richards. Prd by the Author.
Title: Ministerial duties and immunities: a sermon preached at the installation of Rev. William H. Gilbert, over the First Parish in Ashfield, Mass., Dec. 3, 1851
Creator: George Richards
Date of Creation: 1851
Imprint: T. R. Marvin, Boston
Donor: Rev. George Richards
Rev. George Richards (1816-1870) published this sermon on the occasion of the installation of Rev. William H. Gilbert (1817-1905). Such installation sermons were a common occurrence, providing a moment of celebration for the installed minister and instruction for the congregation. According to Richards, praying and preaching were the two principal duties of the minister, while matters of money, officious intermeddling, unintermitted toil, and the reversion of other people’s duties were decidedly not in the job description. Interestingly, Richard’s sermon seems to be in conversation with themes of the social gospel movement which would emerge two decades later, with a focus on; the intersections between capitalism, labor, and the ministerial profession.
In 1853: Donated by the author, a minister at Boston’s Central Congregational Church, this publication would have been intended to be read by other ministers visiting the library. In fact, Richards donated three others of his published sermons in 1853, perhaps indicating a desire to be preserved for posterity in the new library.
In 2023: Nowadays, this pamphlet sits alongside the library’s expansive collection of print and manuscript sermons dating from the 1600s to the present day, It provides insight into the issues, thoughts, and worries of communities, local and national, during the nineteenth century.
By Zachary Bodnar
45. Rev. G. Richard’s Sermon Intrody to his sole Pastorate, 8vo 1851. Prd by [George Richards].
46. Theology of the Puritans, by L. Woods, D.D. 8vo 1851. Presented by
47. Porter's Essay on the Puritains & Jesuits, 12mo. 1851. Presented by
Title: The educational systems of the Puritans and Jesuits compared. A premium essay, written for 'The Society for the promotion of collegiate and theological education at the West'
Creator: Noah Porter
Date of Creation: 1851
Imprint: New York: M.W. Dodd
In this short work, Congregational minister Noah Porter saw “The Jesuit” and “The Puritan” as archetypes “of principles rather than of men” who were competing to control the educational landscape of the United States. Porter argued they represented opposing tendencies, both in the character of their schooling forms and the institutions they created to do that work. The Jesuit, in Porter’s estimation, took the principles and spirit of the Roman Catholic church “and applied them with a consistency that was fearfully rigid.” The Puritan, however, was the commensurate Protestant who embodied the principles of the Reformation and the Enlightenment. While Porter begrudgingly admitted that there were positive aspects to Jesuit education, including his perception of their organizational prowess in contrast to the halting efforts of Protestants to build schools, he ultimately believed that Congregationalists could create better schools.
In 1853: This volume encapsulates mid-nineteenth century Protestants' concern over the contest for the unchurched West of the United States and the efforts of the Jesuits to create a network of schools for training the sons of immigrants. These were not concerns unique to Congregationalists. The collection of books amassed by the Library over its first few decades about Catholicism, however, reveals how alarmed they were by the massive influx of Catholic immigrants from Europe.
In 2023: The current moment serves as a bookend on the period in which this book was written. The twenty-first century has seen the contraction of both Puritan and Jesuit schooling across the nation. The leadership of Jesuit schools has largely been ceded to lay leaders, and several are struggling to find relevance in today’s crowded educational landscape. Congregational schools have similarly contracted, most notably with the merger of Andover Newton Theological Seminary and Yale University in 2017.
By Kyle Roberts
48. Hemmenway on Xtn Baptism, 12 mo. 1781. Presented by [John Wingate] Thornton, Esq.
49. Halyburton's Other 5 Sermons, 8vo. 1723. Presented by J. Wingate Thornton, Esq.
50. Harris's Valed. & Ded. Sermons, 8vo 1817. Presented by the same.
51,2. Catalogue of Dr. Williams's Library, in Red Cross st. London, 2 vols. 8vo. 1841. Presented by Mrs. (late Dr.) Codman.
Title: Catalogue of the library in Red Cross Street, Cripplegate; founded pursuant to the will of the Reverence Daniel Williams, D.D. who died in the Year 1716, in two volumes
Date of Creation: 1841
Imprint: London: Printed and sold by Richard and John E. Taylor, 1841-
Donor: Mary Wheelwright Codman
Opposite Image: Dr Williams' Library: interior of the library. Engraving by J. and H.S. Storer, 1826. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.
In donating the two-volume Catalogue of the Dr Williams’s Library, Mary Wheelwright Codman (1792-1857) honored a trans-Atlantic desire to found a public library dedicated to Protestant learning dating back nearly one-hundred and fifty years. English Dissenting minister Daniel Williams (c.1643-1716) did not live to see his books become the nucleus for a public library within the metropolis of London during his lifetime, but his will left the necessary funds to open one after his passing. Dr Williams’s Library grew to encompass tens of thousands of books, tracts, and pamphlets. Trustees of the library sent a copy of the 1841 Catalogue to Mary’s husband, Rev. Dr. John Codman (1782-1847), minister of the Second Congregational Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Codman entertained similar dreams of founding a library. Like Williams before him, Codman did not live to see the opening of the Congregational Library but his donated copy stood testament to what a Protestant library could become.
In 1853: The 1841 catalog of the collection of Dr Williams’s Library in London must have struck the more ambitious of the founders of the Congregational Library in Boston as aspirational; to the more pragmatic founders, it could have proven daunting.
In 2023: Dr Williams’s Library remains the leading library of English Dissent. The interest in the history of English Dissent detectable within the original 56 donations to the Congregational Library, grew in subsequent years to become an important part of the collections.
By Kyle Roberts
53. No 2 (vol. 1) of Amer. Temperance Mag. N.Y. Presented (probably) by Rev. Dr. Hewit.
Date of Creation: 1851
Imprint: R. Van Dien, New York
Donor: Probably Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Hewit (1788-1867)
The August 1851 issue of The American Temperance Magazine is the only periodical and only work on temperance in the original library collection. This issue includes a biography of Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Hewit (1788-1867), and was likely presented to the library for this reason. Hewit served Congregational and Presbyterian churches in Connecticut and New York. Known as “the Apostle of Temperance,” he also worked for the American Temperance Society promoting total abstinence from intoxicants and preaching that all Christians should do the same or else live in “sin and infamy.” The magazine also includes poetry and short stories about temperance and the evils of alcohol, as well as a summary of the recent activities of various temperance societies throughout the United States. The CLA has since acquired other issues of The American Temperance Magazine as well as many other works on the subject of temperance.
In 1853: Reform movements spread throughout New England in the first half of the nineteenth century. Temperance advocates sought to curb the influence of alcohol in society, and framed alcohol consumption as being linked to poverty, crime, and vice. This magazine demonstrates the interest of Congregationalists and other religious groups in the movement and its popularity among middle class Protestants.
In 2023: Today, temperance is not a major focus of activism. The movement succeeded at passing legislation limiting the sale of alcohol in several states in the nineteenth century, and throughout the United States with the passage of the 18th amendment to the US Constitution in 1919. Their victory proved short-lived, as the 21st Amendment brought Prohibition to an end in 1933.
By Tricia Peone
54. 'Services at Installation of Rev. D. T. Noyes. 1853. Presented by Rev. George Richards.
55. Dictionary of Congregational Usages. 1st ed. Presented by Rev. Mr. Cummings, the Author
56. The same work, in a 2d. ed. Presented by the same.
The New 56
170 years and approximately 225,000 items later, the Congregational Library & Archives still actively collects materials documenting the Congregational Story. The following list represents the 56 most recent print additions to the Congregational Library and Archives's collection. We encourage you to explore this list, and see what connections you can find between this list and the original list that started the library 170 years ago.
1. Afro-Christian Convention: Fifth Stream of the United Church of Christ (2023). Ed. Rev. Yvonne Delk. (9.8.38)
2. New Ecclesiology & polity: the United Church of Christ (2009) by Clyde J. Steckel. (9.9.76)
3. The Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ (2011) by Quinn Caldwell and Curtis Preston. (9.9.78)
4. History and Program of the United Church of Christ (2007) by Margaret Rowland Post; revised, Thomas E. Dipko. (9.8.39)
5. Female Piety and the Invention of American Puritanism (2016) by Bryce Traister (9.3.370)
6. Color Me Included: the African Americans of Hampton’s First Church and Its Descendent Parishes, 1670-1826 (2016) by Deborah B. Knowlton. (17.11.1 H18.76 FIRCC 2016)
7. That We May All (Finally!) Be One: Covenant, Hospitality, and the Expanding Identity of the United Church of Christ (2016) by Mary Susan Gast. (9.9.77)
8. Faith, Race, and the Lost Cause: Confessions of a Southern Church (2023) by Christopher Alan Graham. (126.96.36.1997)
9. Heathen: Religion and Race in American History (2022) by Kathryn Gin Lum. (188.8.131.520)
10. Black is a Church: Christianity and the Contours of African American Life (2023) by Josef Sorett (184.108.40.2069)
11. Captors and Captives: the 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield (2003) by Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney (220.127.116.111)
12. The Letters of the Republic: Publication and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century America (1990) by Michael Warner (7.0.69)
13. Thomas Shepard’s Confessions (1981). Eds. George Selement and Bruce C. Woolley. (17.11.1 C14.24 FIRCC 1981)
14. How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Commodity Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (2001) by John J. McCusker (0.1)
15. Town Born: the Political Economy of New England from its Founding to the Revolution (2009) by Barry Levy. (18.104.22.1685)
16. Religion and the American Revolution: an Imperial History (2021) by Katherine Carté. (22.214.171.1245)
17. Sacred Violence in Early America (2016) by Susan Juster. (7.2.324)
18. The Eighteenth-Century Record of the Boston Overseers of the Poor (2007) edited by Eric Nellis and Anne Decker Cecere. (7.2.325)
19. The Insurgent Delegate: Selected Letters and Other Writings of George Thatcher (2019) edited by William Charles DiGiacomantonio. (126.96.36.1997)
20. The Correspondence of Thomas Hutchinson (2014) edited by John W. Tyler and Elizabeth Dubrulle. (188.8.131.526)
21. Puritanism and Emotion in the Early Modern World (2016) edited by Alec Ryrie and Tom Schwanda (9.1.159)
22. Grow Your Church: Engaging the Marks of Faithful and Vital Local Churches [board game] (2023) created by Erica Dollhopf. (31.3)
23. A Constitutional Culture: New England and the Struggle Against Arbitrary Rule in the Restoration Empire (2023) by Adrian Chastain Weimer. (7.2.323)
24. Strained Sisterhood: Gender and Class in the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (2009) by Deborah Gold Hansen. (7.4.457)
25. Phillis Wheatley Peters: Biography of a Genius in Bondage (2023) by Vincent Carretta. (W56.43C
26. The Crown of Thorns: a Token for the Sorrowing (1847) by Edwin H. Chapin. (184.108.40.2067)
27. The Voice of Prayer: Prayers of the Centuries (1934) by H. G. Tunnicliff. (11.5.762)
28. The Work and Teachings of the Apostles (1916) by Charles Foster Kent. (220.127.116.112)
29. The Bible Doctrine of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Atonement, Faith: To Which is Prefixed, An Essay on Natural Theology, and, the Truth of Revelation (1832) by William Kinkade. (10.1.241)
30. African Angelus: Occasions of Prayer (1950) by Merfyn M. Temple. (18.104.22.1686)
31. Amagama Okuhlabelela: Zulu Hymnal (1911) published by the American Board for Commissioners of Foreign Missions. (22.214.171.124)
32. Victorious Living (1936) by E. Stanley Jones. (11.1.965)
33. The Great Events in the Life of Christ, in Twenty-Five Studies Arranged for Daily Reading and Weekly Class Work (1909) by James McConaughy. (126.96.36.1999)
34. John Eliot’s Puritan Ministry to New England “Indians” (2021) by Do Hoon Kim. (188.8.131.520)
35. When Church Became Theatre: the Transformation of Evangelical Architecture and Worship in Nineteenth-Century America (2002) by Jeanne Halgren Kilde (29.1.474)
36. America’s Book: the Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911 (2022) by Mark A. Noll. (184.108.40.2063)
37. Alexander Twilight: Vermont’s African-American Pioneer (1998) by Michael T. Hahn. (T92.12 H)
38. The Life and Times of Alexander Twilight (2022) by Bill Tulp. (T92.12 T)
39. First Congregational United Church of Christ, Moline, Illinois, 1844-1994, 150: a Twenty-Five Year History, 1969-1994 (1994?) by Richard Wharton. (17.11.1 M73.64 FIRCC 1994)
40. Jim Crow North: the Struggle for Equal Rights in Antebellum New England (2017) by Richard Archer. (220.127.116.118)
41. Samuel Ringgold Ward: a Life of Struggle (2023) by R.J.M. Blackett. (W21.47)
42. The Town Records of Duxbury, Bridgewater, and Dartmouth during the Time of Plymouth Colony, 1620-1692 (2017) transcribed and edited by Jeremy Dupertius Bangs. (7.7.275)
43. Zbior Piesni Naboznych Do Uzytku W Kosciolach I Domach Chrzescianskich (1905) compiled by Ella Hobart. (RBR H65.3)
44. Part-Time is Plenty: Thriving Without Full-Time Clergy (2020) by G. Jeffrey MacDonald. (18.104.22.168)
45. Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America (2023) by Tara Bynum. (27.5.134)
46. Central Congregational Church, Chelmsford Massachusetts: an Oral History, 1955-2000 (2022) by Patricia J. Vondal. (17.11.1 C41.5 CENCC)
47. Typescript Transcription from the “First Record Book of the Church” (19??) [Central Congregational Church, Chelmsford, MA]. (17.11.1 C41.5 CENCC)
48. Justifying Revolution: the American Clergy’s Argument for Political Resistance, 1750-1776 (2021) by Gary L. Steward. (22.214.171.1244)
49. Religion’s Power: What Makes it Work (2023) by Robert Wuthnow. (126.96.36.1998)
50. Good and Mad: Mainline Protestant Churchwomen, 1920-1980 (2023) by Margaret Bendroth. (188.8.131.52)
51. Black Lives, Native Lands, White Worlds: a History of Slavery in New England (2019) by Jared Hardesty. (184.108.40.2067)
52. People of the Screen: How Evangelicals Created the Digital Bible and How it Shapes Their Reading of Scripture (2023) by John Dyer. (220.127.116.112)
53. Race for Revival: How Cold War South Korea Shaped the American Evangelical Empire (2022) by Helen Jin Kim. (18.7.439)
54. Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast (2018) by Christine M. Delucia. (18.104.22.1688)
55. Our Beloved Kin: a New History of King Philip’s War (2018) by Lisa Brooks. (22.214.171.1249)
56. African American Historic Burial Grounds and Gravesites of New England (2016) by Glenn A. Knoblock. (126.96.36.1994)