Congregational Histories

Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York
Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York

The library collects histories of local congregations in any format—book, pamphlet, microfilm, or manuscript. These range from book-length, footnoted histories to pamphlets. Unitarian Universalist Congregations is a bibliography/webography of digitized publications in the public domain that chronicle major events events in the life of Unitarian and Universalist congregations.

  • Recent histories (for example, Charles Grady's 2000 Arlington's First Parish: A History 1733-1990) frequently include histories of the Unitarian, the Universalist, and the merged congregations of a specific town.
  • Earlier histories (for example, Earl Morse Wilbur's 1902 A Historical Sketch of the Independent Congregational Church, Meadville, Pennsylvania, 1825-1900) were usually based on original records held by the congregation.
  • The earliest histories are frequently found in sermons or addresses given at a minister's anniversary or retirement (for example, James Thompson's 1854 A Discourse Preached at Barre, January 11, 1854, at the End of a Ministry of Fifty Years in that Town) or for a church anniversary (for example, Adoniram J. Patterson's 'Historical Address,' found in the Centennial Anniversary of the Planting of Universalism in Portsmouth, N.H., Nov. 16 & 17, 1873).
  • The library also has unpublished histories, such as Cora Dolbee's 'The Unitarian Church of Lawrence, Kansas, 1855-1930. An Interpretative Story of a Church Career' (bMS 109).

Regional histories (for example, Abel C. Thomas's 1872 A Century of Universalism in Philadelphia and New York, with Sketches of Its History in Reading, Hightstown, Brooklyn, and Elsewhere or Arnold Crompton's 1957 Unitarianism on the Pacific Coast: The First Sixty Years) include histories of individual churches. General local histories (for example, Seth Chandler's 1883 History of the Town of Shirley, Massachusetts, from Its Early settlement to A.D. 1882) include extensive information on the history of the various congregations within a given town.

Please see Searching HOLLIS for Information on Local Congregations for help finding these works. Additional material may be available; if you do not find what you are looking for, please contact a research librarian.

If you know of histories that the library should purchase, please use the Recommendation for Purchase form. If you are interested in donating unpublished historical material to the library, see "Donating Materials" on the Contact Special Collections page.