Beacon Street Diary blog

Collection Highlight: Highland Congregational Church, Boston

by William McCarthy, Reference and Processing Archivist

While the staff of the CLA have been working from home, we have continued to remain engaged with our collections even while separated from them. These posts will highlight some of our less well-known collections. Please note that the collections highlighted are not available online unless otherwise noted.

Today I want to highlight the Roslindale, Boston, Highland Congregational Church records, 1869-2006, RG4824. The collection was donated to the library in 2007 and processed in 2009.

The Highland Congregational Church’s origins start with the Sunday School affiliated with the Eliot Church. The school’s constant growth led to a discussion about forming a new, separate church. In February of 1869, a meeting on the matter decided that a new church would in fact be formed. A month later, 52 members joined the new Highland Congregational Church. The Eliot City Missionary Society decided to donate their property to the new church and by the end of 1871 the church was fully operational on Parker Street. A Chapel school, also located on Parker Street, would be linked with Highland Congregational Church until it was officially merged in 1897. The church continued to remain on Parker Street all the way until 1978, when a fire damaged the steeple and some of the church records. The church would finally leave its Parker Street location in 1980 and share the Trinity Lutheran Church on Center Street for over two decades. In 2006, the church officially closed due to a declining membership. Over the course of Highland Congregational Church’s existence, they would only have five pastors, with Rev. William Arthur Rice serving the longest at 51 years.

This collection is broken up into 6 separate series and is contained in 13 boxes, making it quite a large collection. The first series, Church Records, contains manuals, meeting minutes, annual reports, financial information, correspondences, and records related to the maintenance of the church. The records in this series only go up to the time right after the move to Trinity Lutheran Church. The second series, Members and Vital Statistics, focuses on births, marriages, deaths, Sunday School material, pastor’s notes, letters of transfers, and sermons. The third series, Auxiliary and Social Groups, focuses on a variety of clubs such as the Women’s Union, Union Mother’s Club, Women’s Missionary Club, Mount Holyoke Bible School and Sunday School. There is also a section of this series which focuses on the history of the church, including programs, activities, and other memorabilia. The fourth series focuses on the Ministers of the church, with a primary focus on Rev. William Arthur Rice sermons, life, and activities in clubs around Boston. The fifth series, newsletters, contains editions of “The Highland Light” between 1891 and 2000, with some gaps. The final series contains two Bibles, one of which is from the church’s opening in 1871. The Highland Congregational Church collection contains so much valuable information that stretches across such a long period of time that it is a treasure trove for researchers or curious individuals! 

The legacy finding aid for this collection can be found HERE. If you have any interest in viewing this collection once the library reopens, or you have any other CLA related questions, do not hesitate to reach out to us at ref@14beacon.org. Stay safe and have a great day!