Guide to the Collection
|Creator:||South Congregational Church
|Title:||South Congregational Church
|Physical Description:||3 document
boxes, 18 vols. in cases, and 1 extra tall vol.
|Call Number:||Ms. N-304
|Repository:||Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215
This collection consists of the church records of
the South Congregational Society (Unitarian), Boston, Mass., 1828-1929,
including vital records, Standing Committee minutes and annual reports,
financial and property records, Board of Charities records, Sunday School
attendance records and class lists, scrapbooks, and a published volume of the
history of the church, 1878. The collection also includes handwritten sermons
of Rev. Edward Hale, an account book kept by Hale recording articles
contributed to a magazine he edited, entitled Old and
New, and records of the Hale Club.
The South Congregational Society was formed in Boston in 1825 by three
groups: the people of Boston's new South End; members of the over-crowded
Hollis Street Church; and friends and supporters of Dr. Horace Holley, former
minister of the Hollis Street Church. Holley had left Boston to accept a
position as president of Transylvania University in Kentucky, but wanted to
return to Boston.
The first meeting to consider the erection of a new church in the southern
part of Boston was held on April 19, 1825. Alden Bradford, former secretary of
the Commonwealth, was chosen chairman, and Henry H. Fuller, secretary. A
committee of ten individuals was appointed to assess the need for a church in
The first subscription for funds to build the church was begun in 1825. The
subscription failed, but was renewed in 1827, and advertised as benefiting
"Christians of the Congregational persuasion?in the southern part of the city."
A total of one hundred and fifty shares, at one hundred dollars each, were
subscribed, and work began on the church.
The cornerstone of the first meeting house, located at the corner of
Washington and Castle Streets, was laid on August 7, 1827. Many of the
subscribers and supporters of the church participated with the hopes that Dr.
Holley would soon join them and accept the ministry, but, unknown to them,
Holley had died of yellow fever a week earlier on his journey from Kentucky to
Boston. Many of Holley's supporters were so disappointed by his death that,
although they had contributed to the original planning of the church, never
joined the congregation.
The first meeting house was completed in January 1828, and the dedication
was arranged for the 30th of that month. Although Dr. William Ellery Channing's
name was printed on the programs for the services, his health unexpectedly
failed him, and he was unable to attend. At the last moment, Rev. Henry Ware,
Jr. took his place and became the first minister to preach to the new
Rev. Mellish Irving Motte was installed as minister of the recently formed
South Congregational Society on May 21, 1828. Motte expanded the activities of
the church by forming the Sunday School, which met for the first time on June
13, 1828. There were twenty teachers and seventy children present, with Motte
as the superintendent. Motte resigned his charge in May 1842 after fifteen
years of faithful ministry.
Motte's successor, Frederick Dan Huntington was ordained on October 19,
1842. Huntington's ministry was successful, and during his fourteen years as
minister, "the Church was full; its debt was paid; the charities were admirably
administered; [and] the Sunday School was in perfect order." Huntington formed
the Board of Charities and the South Friendly Society (1833). In 1856,
Huntington left the church to become preacher of the college chapel and Plummer
Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard College.
Rev. Edward Everett Hale, who was installed as pastor of the Society on
October 1, 1856, succeeded Huntington, and remained as minister of the South
Congregational Church for forty-three years. Hale possessed strong views about
the general betterment of human relationships, social, political and personal,
and became involved in various charities in the Boston area. He is famous for
his involvement in the development of a number of clubs of organized good-will,
among them the Lend A Hand Society. Hale was also actively involved in the
South Friendly Society and the Board of Charities at the South Congregational
The role of the Board of Charities was to supervise church charities.
Although organized by Huntington, the board was enlarged and strengthened by
Hale. Many of the charities Hale instituted in Boston received the guidance and
influence of the board and, while a moderate portion of the funds went toward
remedial charity, larger sums were given to religious and philanthropic
institutions in the city. Included among these were the American Unitarian
Association; the Benevolent Fraternity of Churches; the Sunday School Society;
Hale House; and, the South End Industrial School. The remaining money went
toward the work of The Associated Charities in the district and to aid the poor
and aged connected with the church. In November 1902, the church voted to send
all cases of charity other than those of Dr. Hale's to the Charity Committee of
the South Friendly Society.
The cornerstone for the new church on Union Park Street was laid on June 8,
1861. The church, known as Hale's Church was completed in seven months, and the
dedication was held on January 8, 1862.
Hale preached his last sermon in this church on June 26, 1887. The building
was sold to a Jewish organization to be made into a synagogue, and in October
of that same year, the South Congregational Church and Society merged with the
Hollis Street Church from which it had split fifty-two years earlier. The
combined congregations, now known as the South Congregational Society, moved to
the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets.
Rev. Edward Everett Hale submitted his resignation as pastor of the South
Congregational Church on May 15, 1899. The church formally accepted it on
January 30, 1900. The congregation chose Rev Samuel Atkins Eliot as his
successor, however Eliot declined the unanimous offer due to his commitment as
secretary of the American Unitarian Association.
On October 7, 1900, Professor Edward Cummings of Harvard College was
ordained and given the associate pastorship at South Congregational Church;
Hale became pastor emeritus of the church and society.
In 1925, the South Congregational Church merged with the First Church of
Boston. The merger came about as a result of the changing conditions in the
Back Bay, and would aid the two congregations to greatly strengthen their
position and largely increase their influence and usefulness. Rev. Edward
Cummings was made minister emeritus after the consolidation.
The merger precipitated the sale of the property at Newbury and Exeter
Streets. The building was sold for approximately $130,000, and the proceeds
applied first to the expense of refitting the First Church. The balance was
placed in the hands of the Edward Everett Hale Fund for maintenance of the
Edward Everett Hale Memorial built in the basement of the First Church
The South Congregational Society was officially dissolved on May 13,
Memorials of the History for Half a Century of
South Congregational Church, Boston (Boston: Rand, Abery & Company,
The records of the South Congregational Society are housed in 18 cased
volumes, 3 boxes, and 1 extra tall volume, and document the history of the
Society from 1828 to 1929, when it was officially dissolved. The collection has
been divided into nine series: Church records; Standing Committee records;
church financial and property records; Board of Charities records; Sunday
School records; Hale Club Records; Memorials; Scrapbooks; and Edward Everett
The bulk of the records are bound and contain records of baptisms,
marriages, and funerals; financial and property records; warrants, votes and
minutes. Early in the church's history, baptism, marriage, and funeral records
were kept in a single volume with other general church records.
The collection also contains one box of Edward Everett Hale papers. These
include sermons, and a volume of records of contributors to Old and New, a
monthly magazine edited by Hale. Loose items removed from bound volumes have
been stored in folders and are listed after each specific volume.
In addition to the general church records, the collection includes material
related to Hale and his charities. Many were created during Hale's ministry,
and therefore reflect his strong dedication to charity and public betterment.
This is particularly evident in the Board of Charities minutes, which include
information about church involvement with the South Friendly Society and the
Lend a Hand Society, both of which were greatly influenced by Hale. Hale also
played a key role in many other charities in the Boston area, and the records
of the Society reflect the guidance and influence these organizations received
from the Board of Charities of the South Congregational Society.
This collection was removed from the Boston First and Second Church Records.
The records of the First and Second Church were placed on deposit at the
Massachusetts Historical Society by the church in February 1991.
The collection is organized into the following series:
|Series I: Church Records, 1828-1929
|Series II: Standing Committee Records, 1857-1921
|Series III: Church Financial and Property Records, 1862-1928
| A. Church Financial Records, 1897-1928
| B. Church Property Records, 1862-1867
|Series IV: Board of Charities Records, -1925
|Series V: Sunday School Records, 1857-1867
|Series VI: Hale Club Records, 1891-1913
|Series VII: Memorials, 1878
|Series VIII: Scrapbooks, 1828-
|Series IX: Edward Everett Hale Papers, 1870-1889
|Series I: Church Records,
This series of official church records is arranged chronologically, and
contains the bulk of the volumes in this collection. The records include
warrants, votes, and annual meeting minutes of the Society, as well as
registers of baptisms, marriages, and funerals. An alphabetically-arranged
index refers to the before-mentioned registers kept from 1841 to 1897 by volume
and page number. General records of the South Congregational Society contain
records of baptisms, marriages, and funerals, as well as general records
pertaining to the organization and development of the church.
Loose items removed from these volumes include copies of marriage and
divorce certificates; baptism records; correspondence; and miscellaneous
|Box 1||Folder 1||Mr. Motte's register of baptisms, funerals and weddings,
|Vol. 1||Index to baptisms, funerals, and marriages in volumes 3 - 6,
|Vol. 2||Records of the South Congregational Church,
Records include baptisms (1842-55), marriages (1842-55), and funerals
|Box 1||Folder 2-3||Loose items removed from Volume 2,
This volume also includes two entries dated June 1, 1850 and October 22,
1854. These also appear in Volume 2)
|Box 1||Folder 4||Loose items removed from Volume 3,
|Box 1||Folder 5||Loose items removed from Volume 5,
|Vol. 6||Records of the South Congregational Society,
Includes a copy of the final decree dissolving the South Congregational
|Vol. 7 (XT)||Census of residents (of Boston?) and their church affiliations,
compiled by Walter C. Green,
Includes Edward E. Hale's notes on members, c. 1900
|Series II: Standing Committee Records,
This series is made up of two volumes of standing committee minutes arranged
chronologically from 1857-1921, and reports of the annual meetings of the
standing committee for the years 1920-1921. Due to severe mildew, the second
volume of minutes (1884-1921) has been disbound and is stored in five folders
in Box 1.
Responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Church, the Standing
Committee oversaw the work of the following sub-committees: supply of pulpit;
music; finance; social gatherings; Sexton's duty and care and repair of the
church; care of grounds; pews; flowers; managing committee of the Christian
Unity Chapel; and publicity. The records of the Standing Committee document
surrenders and transfers of pews, use of the church building by other groups,
society membership, closing of the church during the summer months,
furnishings, and staff.
Loose items removed from these volumes include printed materials such as
by-laws, calls, warrants, and financial reports of the trustees. There is also
a plan of pews, including the price charged for each.
|Vol. 8||Standing Committee minutes,
|Box 1||Folder 6-11||Standing Committee minutes,
|Box 1||Folder 12||Standing Committee reports,
|Series III: Church Financial and Property Records,
This series is separated into two categories: financial records and property
| A. Church Financial Records,
Church financial records are made up of the general records of the treasurer
and include both account books and cashbooks.
|Vol. 9||Treasurer's account book,
|Vol. 10||Treasurer's account book,
|Vol. 11||Treasurer's account book,
|Vol. 12||Cash book,
|Vol. 13||Cash book,
| B. Church Property Records,
Church property records consist of a single volume of pew ownership records.
Pew sales and transfers are recorded on the back of the deeds. A list of names
and addresses titled "pew proprietors" has been moved to a folder in Box 1.
|Vol. 14||Pew Deeds,
|Box 1||Folder 13||List of pew proprietors, n.d.
|Series IV: Board of Charities Records,
The Board of Charities records consist of two volumes of
chronologically-arranged minutes and lists of names and addresses of members of
the board. The 1900-25 volume also includes printed copies of treasurer's
reports for some years.
The role of the Board of Charities was the supervision of the church
charities, and support for Dr. Hale in his plans of public betterment. This is
reflected in the minutes of the board. Only a moderate amount of the funds
appropriated by the board went towards remedial charities, while much larger
sums were given to important religious and philanthropic institutions in the
city. These included the American Unitarian Association; the Benevolent
Fraternity of Churches; the Sunday School Society; Hale House; and South End
Industrial School. The remaining money went toward the work of The Associated
Charities in the district and for the aid of the poor and aged connected with
Loose items removed from the minute books include one folder of
correspondence (1890-1912) consisting largely of letters of resignation and
acceptance for seats on the board. There is also some correspondence from the
Lend A Hand Society regarding emergency sewing and other charity work. Other
items include a sermon, lists of members, and treasurer's reports.
|Vol. 15||Board of Charities minutes,
|Vol. 16||Board of Charities minutes,
|Box 2||Folder 1-2||Loose items removed from Volumes 15 and 16,
|Series V: Sunday School Records,
This series consists of a single volume containing names of teachers and
students (divided into boys and girls classes) for each year. Attendance
records, listing the aggregate, average, smallest and largest attendance, as
well as any deaths, are also recorded for some years.
Loose items removed include a class list, orders of exercises, and
|Vol. 17||Sunday School Records, 1857-67
|Box 2||Folder 3||Loose items removed from Volume 17, 1866-1867
|Series VI: Hale Club Records,
The records of the Hale Club reflect its purposes: the promotion of social
feeling and good fellowship among the attendants of the church and the cause of
The first meeting of the Hale Club was held on November 17, 1891, and this
volume contains the minutes of each of the regular monthly meetings of the club
until November 3, 1913. Meetings were held on the first Monday of each month,
and were attended by its members, gentlemen who attended the church, and their
Dr. Hale attended most meetings, and a guest speaker was often invited to
entertain the members with lectures on various subjects, ranging from travel to
immigration. There was an annual ladies' night, and receptions were
occasionally held in place of a meeting. The records consist of minutes and
Due to severe mildew, this volume has been disbound for treatment and
stored in Box 2 (folders 4-9).
|Box 2||Folder 4-9||Hale Club records,
|Series VII: Memorials,
This series consists of a single published volume entitled
Memorials of the History for Half a Century of South
Congregational Church, Boston, (Boston: Rand, Abery & Company,
1878). This volume is a special edition and includes original correspondence
and photographs of individuals associated with the church. Included among the
correspondents are Rev. George Putnam and Rev. F. D. Huntington. Many of these
items are addressed to Rev. Hale. The volume also includes a printed history of
the first fifty years of the South Congregational Society, sermons, hymns, and
other notes listing original membership and other information about the
congregation. Orders of exercises, pamphlets, and other printed materials
relating to the church are also included.
|Vol. 18||Memorials of the History of Half a Century of
the South Congregational Church, Boston (Pub: Boston: Rand, Abery &
|Series VIII: Scrapbooks,
The first scrapbook (1828-) contains copies of church publications;
clippings; materials related to Hale's 70th and 80th birthday celebrations,
resignation, and memorials after his death; and the church's merger with First
Church in 1925. Due to its brittle condition, the original scrapbook has been
photocopied and discarded.
The second scrapbook includes Edward Everett Hale's articles on various
subjects published in the Christian Register.
This scrapbook covers the years 1906 to 1909 and includes an alphabetical
|Box 2||Folder 10-12||Scrapbook,
(Photocopies only; due to its brittle condition, the
original scrapbook was photocopied and discarded)
|Vol. 19||Scrapbook (Christian Register),
|Series IX: Edward Everett Hale Papers,
Arranged chronologically and numerically.
This series consists of sermons read by Edward Everett Hale from April 1888
to May 1889. Most are handwritten in notebooks, with typescript pages inserted.
The sermon number, title, place, and date are recorded on the front cover of
This series also contains a notebook entitled "Author's Account Book." This
book lists names of contributors, number of pages, price per page, and payment
details for articles contributed to Old and New,
a monthly magazine edited by Hale from 1870 to 1875.
|Box 3||Folder 1||Sermons, n.d.
|Box 3||Folder 2||Sermons,
April - May 1888 (no. 1297-1299)
|Box 3||Folder 3||Sermons,
Sept. - Oct. 1888 (no. 1300-1303)
|Box 3||Folder 4||Sermons,
Nov. - Dec. 1888 (no. 1304-1306 1/2, missing
|Box 3||Folder 5||Sermons,
Jan. - Feb. 1889 (no. 1308-1311)
|Box 3||Folder 6||Sermons,
March 1889 (no. 1312-1313, 1315)
|Box 3||Folder 7||Sermons,
April - May 1889 (no. 1314, 1316-1317)
|Box 3||Folder 8||"Author's Account Book,"
South Congregational Church records, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in
the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers
desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should
search the catalog using these headings.
|Hale, Edward Everett, 1822-1909.
|Hale Club (Boston, Mass.).