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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 712

Boston, Massachusetts. First Church in Boston. Records, 1844-1996.


Records of the First Church in Boston, including orders and notices of service, ledgers, church groups and organizations, general church records, and general AUA and UUA records. They span 1844-1996.


  • 1844-1996.


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.


20 boxes
The bulk of the material in this collection consists of orders of service. It also includes notices of services, ledgers, records of organizations within the church, sermons, guest registers, and an assortment of American Universalist Association and Unitarian Universalist Association publications.

Biographical / Historical

The covenant for First Church in Boston was signed in 1630. The first meeting house for the church was built in 1632 on State Street in Boston. A larger building was erected after this on Washington Street, which was destroyed in a fire in 1711. A new building served the congregation until 1808, when the congregation moved to Chauncy Place. In 1868 First Church moved to its present location, at the intersection of Berkeley and Marlborough streets in Boston’s Back Bay. After a fire destroyed the 1868 building, the Church was rebuilt at the same place with a Paul Rudolph-designed building.

The First Church in Boston was incorporated as a Special Act corporation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1829. In 1922, in connection with a change in the Church from one financed by pew assessments to one financed by annual pledge drives, all the pews were contributed under a Deed of Trust to five Trustees who are also Trustees of the 1829 corporation.

Second Church was founded in 1649 by members of the First Church. Over the last three hundred years, five other congregations have merged either with The First Church in Boston or with Second Church in Boston, which merged into First Church in 1970. They include Hollis Street Church, South Congregational Church, the Seventh Church, the Tenth Church and the Church of Our Savior.

Many prominent members of Boston’s history have had ties with these various church communities, including John Cotton, the Mather family, Anne Hutchinson, William Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Ware, Jr. and Charles Chauncy. Recent ministers include Charles Edward Park and Rhys Williams.


Organized into the following series:
  1. Series I. Orders and notices of services
  2. Series II. Ledgers
  3. Series III. Records of church groups and organizations
  4. Series IV. General church records
  5. Series V. General American Universalist Association and Unitarian Universalist Association records

Acquisition Information

Gift of the First Church in Boston.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Carol Fillip in 2011.
Link to catalog
Boston, Massachusetts. First Church in Boston. Records, 1844-1996: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Divinity School Library, Harvard University Repository

Special Collections at Andover-Harvard Theological Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies.

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