Beacon Street Diary

December 28, 2016

Due to a local utility outage, the CLA has closed early today at 11:30 am.

We expect the problem to be resolved by tomorrow morning and will reopen then as usual.

All of our online resources will remain available. If you have a question you'd like to ask the staff, send an us email or leave a voicemail, and we'll get back to you when we return to the office. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

December 23, 2016

The Congregational Library & Archives will be closed this coming Monday, December 26th, to allow our staff to return from their Christmas weekend travels.

All of our online resources will be available as usual. If you have a question you'd like to ask the staff, send an us email or leave a voicemail, and we'll get back to you when we return to the office on Tuesday, December 27th.

We wish all of you a safe and happy holiday.

 


photograph of a red Christmas bauble on blurred golden background courtesy of Petr Kratochvil via Wikimedia Commons

December 9, 2016

We are pleased to announce the latest additions to our New England's Hidden Histories program. All three happen to be from churches that are now known by names that are different from the ones they chose when they were founded.

  • Boston, Mass. Old South Church
    Most people know the Third Church of Boston better as "Old South", either from the meetinghouse that is now a historical landmark or from the current home of the congregation in the Back Bay neighborhood. We have digitized some of their early records, which contain administrative information, as well as lists of members, marriages, and baptisms. One of the more prominent figures to appear in these records is Benjamin Franklin, who was baptized in 1706.
  • Northbridge, Mass. Centre Congregational Church
    Dating from when it was called the Congregational Church of Christ, the early records of this church span more than fifty years of church meetings, memberships, baptism and marriage records, and disciplinary matters.
  • Reading, Mass. Second Church of Christ
    This single volume covers more than eighty years of church history from before it became the First Church of North Reading when the new town was established. Included are vital records of membership, baptisms, marriages, and disciplinary matters, as well as meeting minutes and the church's covenants.

 

Special Thanks

These digital resources have been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

December 5, 2016

Join us for a concert by Renaissonics, accompanied by The Gropina Trio.

Renaissonics' newest program, Such Stuff As Dreams, is an enchanting voyage though the Renaissance imagination where the fantasies and genius of the age of Leonardo, Galileo and Shakespeare come alive through their music.

Such Stuff As Dreams features Renaissance and early Baroque chamber music, dance music, and improvisations. Music from Shakespeare, elegant Italian madrigals and dances, early Baroque sonatas, English masque music, and of course Renaissonics' acclaimed improvisations.

Renaissance music's expressive freedom derives partly from the music's being written completely without barlines. This allows each player the freedom to "speak" with their instruments like a storyteller; a true musical democracy where each voice is equal and free to tell their own individual story all the while intertwining with the other voices in a lush tapestry of sounds that are at once endlessly complex and stunningly beautiful. You can listen to samples of their music on their website.


Tuesday, December 6th
12:00 - 1:30 pm

Free.
Register through Eventbrite.

 


photograph of Renaissonics by Susan Wilson

December 2, 2016

Our reading room will be closed to the public on Monday, December 5th for our board's quarterly meeting.

All of our online resources will be available as usual, and staff members will be in the office to answer questions over the phone or by email.

November 29, 2016

As we approach the end of the year, we reflect on our blessings with our families and prepare for the upcoming holidays. Here at the Congregational Library & Archives, we hope that you will keep us in your thoughts, as well.

About #GivingTuesday:

#GivingTuesday is a movement, built by people around the world, to celebrate giving of all kinds. It is celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Black Friday and Cyber Monday; this year it falls on November 29, 2016. This movement is the result of the collective power of a unique blend of partners — nonprofits large and small; businesses and corporations; schools and universities; civic campaigns in cities, states and regions; and families and individuals — to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and contribute in countless ways to the causes they believe in. Everyone has something to give.

We encourage you to take the opportunity of Giving Tuesday to allocate your charitable giving, and we hope that you will make us a part of that. Our memberships are as little as $25 for students, and every donation is appreciated, no matter how small.

Your support allows us to provide services to researchers of all backgrounds, care for rare and unique historical materials, and increase public access to information that might otherwise be hidden from the world. Help us tell the stories of early New England and its people. Help us preserve our past for future generations. Be a part of our ongoing mission to ensure that history matters.

Whether you become a member or simply make a donation, we will put every contribution to good use.

November 25, 2016

As we approach the end of the year, we reflect on our blessings with our families and prepare for the upcoming holidays. Here at the Congregational Library & Archives, we hope that you will keep us in your thoughts, as well.

About #GivingTuesday:

#GivingTuesday is a movement, built by people around the world, to celebrate giving of all kinds. It is celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Black Friday and Cyber Monday; this year it falls on November 29, 2016. This movement is the result of the collective power of a unique blend of partners — nonprofits large and small; businesses and corporations; schools and universities; civic campaigns in cities, states and regions; and families and individuals — to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and contribute in countless ways to the causes they believe in. Everyone has something to give.

We encourage you to take the opportunity of Giving Tuesday to allocate your charitable giving, and we hope that you will make us a part of that. Our memberships are as little as $25 for students, and every donation is appreciated, no matter how small.

Your support allows us to provide services to researchers of all backgrounds, care for rare and unique historical materials, and increase public access to information that might otherwise be hidden from the world. Help us tell the stories of early New England and its people. Help us preserve our past for future generations. Be a part of our ongoing mission to ensure that history matters.

Whether you become a member or simply make a donation, we will put every contribution to good use. Mark your calendars and get ready to spread a little joy.

November 22, 2016

The Congregational Library & Archives will be closed this coming Wednesday through Friday, November 23-25, in observance of Thanksgiving.

All of our online resources will be available as usual. If you have a question you'd like to ask the staff, send an us email or leave a voicemail, and we'll get back to you when we return to the office on Monday, November 28th.

We wish all of you a safe and happy holiday.

November 10, 2016

The Congregational Library & Archives will be closed on Friday, November 11th, in observance of Veterans' Day.

All of our online resources will be available as usual. If you have a question you'd like to ask the staff, send an us email or leave a voicemail, and we'll get back to you when we return on Monday.

 

November 1, 2016

By the 1640s Massachusetts had already moved beyond paper ballots.

Not that they had any voting machines; it was just that paper was too expensive. So in a cost-cutting move the government went to "Indian beanes" (kidney beans). Their voting law stipulated that in the annual election for Assistants (who comprised the fledgling upper house of the Commonwealth's General Court), "the white beanes manifest election, the black for blanks." (September 7, 1643)

Enter Mighill Smith. On May 26, 1647, the government voted to make Mr. Smith a freeman. That meant he had attained a coveted status in early New England. From the original handful of persons named in the Bay Company charter, the Puritan settlers quickly expanded the right to vote to include a much larger population, namely, all (male) church members. So Mr. Smith proudly joined the ranks of the freemen; and it appears he voted that very day in an election for the Colony's Assistants. It may have been the first time he ever voted in his entire life.

It isn't clear that Mr. Smith believed in voting early and often — but he did drop three beans into the receptacle. A poll watcher caught him. He was accused of violating the October, 1643 law against voting more than once. As a result, in what may have been the first case of voter fraud on these shores, a £10 fine was levied on Mighill Smith. That hefty sum could have amounted to almost half of his yearly income.

Justice was swift. In that same session of the Great and General Court, maybe even on the very next day, the Court reached a judicious and compassionate verdict. "For his puting in of three beanes at once for one mans election," says the record, "it being done in simplicity, & he being pore & of an harmles disposition," Mr. Smith's fine was suspended.

-David M. Powers

 


photograph of an early ballot box using ballottas courtesy of the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution, via Wikimedia Commons

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