Beacon Street Diary

April 18, 2017

Our reading room will be closed to the public on Thursday, April 20th from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm for a meeting of the Advisory Circle, our friends of the library group.

Staff will be on hand to answer questions by phone or email, and all of our online resources will be available as usual.

 

April 13, 2017

By a coincidence of the calendar, the Congregational Library & Archives will be closed this coming Friday, April 14th for Good Friday and the following Monday, April 17th for Patriots' Day.

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

To those of you celebrating Easter this weekend, we wish you a safe and happy time. And best of luck to everyone participating in the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday.

 


image of Easter lamb bread courtesy of Silar via Wikimedia Commons, released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

April 12, 2017

Did you know that we co-sponsor a research fellowship with our neighbors at the Boston Athenaeum?

American Congregational Association - Boston Athenaeum Fellowship

This fellowship supports research in American religious history involving the collections of the Boston Athenaeum and the Congregational Library & Archives. The award includes a stipend of $1,500 for a residency of twenty days (four weeks) and includes a year's membership to both institutions. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or foreign nationals holding the appropriate U.S. government documents.

If you've been considering applying, the deadline is this Saturday. More details about this and other funding opportunities can be found on our Research Scholarships page.

April 10, 2017

There's still plenty of time to sign up for this month's free lunchtime lecture. It's bound to be a rockin' good time.


Christian Rock and Evangelical Culture in the 1960s and 1970s

Alongside the headlines, radio sermons, about the Beatle scare in the mid-1960s there was another story emerging. The so-called generation gap and the trouble with wayward youth riled conservative Christians from coast to coast. In response to worries about the widening generation gap, many evangelicals — as well as Catholics and some mainline Protestants — made peace with the form of rock music. The embrace of rock was not too out of the ordinary. Conservative Christianity proved remarkably elastic, as believers had long used nearly any means necessary to steady the faltering or save the unconverted.

Billy Sunday, the most well-known fundamentalist preacher of the century, set the tone when he declared, "I'd stand on my head in a mud puddle if I thought it would help me win souls to Christ." By the late 1960s folk masses and traditional songs geared to a young audience became commonplace. Billy Graham shared the stage with Christian rock acts in the early 1970s and penned a book about the Jesus generation, even using the slang of "hippiedom" in the process. He, like many other faithful, decided that the genre could be baptized for godly purposes. Baby boomers and their parents — many of them Pentecostals — played a critical role in crafting a lively, more changeable, and culturally engaged faith. For evangelicalism to thrive, so went the logic, it had to adjust to the times and accommodate the youth culture. The new openness to the counterculture inspired millions.

Randall Stephens is an Associate Professor and Reader in History and American Studies at Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. He is the author The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South (Harvard University Press, 2008); The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age, co-authored with physicist Karl Giberson (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011); and editor of Recent Themes in American Religious History (University of South Carolina Press, 2009).

His current book project, The Devil's Music: Rock and Christianity Since the 1950s (under contract with Harvard University Press), will examine the relationship of rock music to American Christianity as well as the emergence of Christian Rock. Stephens has written for the Atlantic, Salon, Raw Story, the Wilson Quarterly, Books & Culture, Quartz, Christian Century, the Independent, the Chronicle of Higher Ed, and the New York Times. In 2012 he was a Fulbright Roving Scholar in American Studies in Norway.


Wednesday, April 12th
12:00 - 1:00 pm

Free.
Register through Eventbrite.

 


photograph of a Harmony H82 Rebel guitar by Jason Scragz via Wikimedia Commons

March 28, 2017

Seats are filling up. Don't forget to reserve yours for this week's free lunchtime discussion.


William Goodell (the abolitionist) was a distant relative of William Goodell (the missionary to the Ottoman Empire) and Lucy Goodale. Like his relatives, William Goodell (the abolitionist) was deeply involved with the Congregational Church, which played a central role in the abolition of slavery in the United States.

In 1833 Goodell founded the New York Anti-Slavery Society and the American Anti-Slavery Society. Over the next three decades, he devoted his life to the cause of destroying the sin of slavery (and incidentally, the sin of racism). His descendants continued this trend. Grandson, William Goodell Frost was the third president of the remarkable Berea College (motto: God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth). It was the first school in the south to be coeducational and racially integrated. Frost was at the forefront of struggles against the Jim Crow system in the South. It was Frost who confronted the Kentucky state legislature when it passed a bill in 1904 to segregate Berea College. Frost and the Berea College administration fought this bill all the way to the Supreme Court.


Over the past decade, the study of missionaries from the United States has grown in leaps and bounds. Much of this work presumes that missionaries were always outsiders to the societies they evangelized however their children often grew up speaking local languages without a trace of an accent, and seeing the world through local lenses. This process of acculturation signals that the work of conversion was often a two-way street, and that the experience of living abroad for several generations profoundly shaped communities of missionaries.

In the Middle East, the American missionaries become involved in activities later associated with the Peace Corps, from building schools to carrying out famine relief. In Hawai'i, the American missionaries were involved in the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani and the annexation of the islands to the United States. Finally, in the south of the United States, in the aftermath of the Civil War, missionaries built most of the historically black colleges and struggled against the racism of Jim Crow.

Miller's current research (including sources from the Congregational Library & Archives) brings these strands of missionary history together in the broader framework of world history. Research for his second book follows the story of a single missionary family, the Goodell or Goodale, across three generations from New England to the Ottoman Empire, Appalachian Mountains and Hawai'i.


Thursday, March 30th
12:00 - 1:00 pm

Free.
Register through Eventbrite.

 


image of M. L'Instant, abolitionist from Haiti, an excerpt from "The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840" by Benjamin Robert Haydon, owned by the National Portrait Gallery, via Wikimedia Commons

March 15, 2017

Don't let the snow keep you away. The sidewalks are being cleared, and there are still seats left for tomorrow's free lunchtime lecture.


Lord Mayor Robert Briscoe's Boston Tour

In the spring of 1957, the Jewish Lord Mayor of Dublin, Robert Briscoe, paid a visit to Boston, while on tour of the United States. A religious, Jewish, Irish mayor was an unexpected presence who represented much of what Cold War Americans hoped was possible in their own country: courageous patriotism from members of all parties of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Although little-remembered today, the visit of an Orthodox Jewish Irish mayor created much fanfare and presented a model of citizenship that resonated with Cold War Bostonians.

Rachel Gordan grew up outside of Boston and received her PhD in American religious history from Harvard and her bachelors from Yale College. She teaches American Jewish religion and culture at BU and Brandeis University and is working on a book about postwar American Judaism.


Thursday, March 16th
12:00 - 1:00 pm

Free.
Register through Eventbrite.

 


image of Robert Briscoe, Lord Mayor of Dublin, excerpted from a 1962 photograph of a meeting with President Kennedy, courtesy of The Jewish Chronicle

March 13, 2017

Due to the impending severe snowstorm, our reading room will be closed on Tuesday, March 14th.

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 Wednesday, March 15th.

We will update this post with any further information, if necessary. You can also keep up-to-date through our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

We hope all of our local patrons are safe and warm.

 


photograph "Bokeh Snow tree branches in Massachusetts blizzard" by D Sharon Pruitt, via Wikimedia Commons

February 17, 2017

The Congregational Library & Archives will be closed on Monday, February 20th in observance of Presidents' Day.

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

 


photograph of Mount Rushmore by Sfmontyo via Wikimedia Commons

 

February 14, 2017

Don't forget to let us know if you'll be joining us for this month's free lunchtime lecture. Seats are filling up fast.


In 1818, William Goodell (the missionary) introduced his relative, Lucy Goodale to his college friend Asa Thurston. Lucy Goodale and Asa Thurston were two of the earliest American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions' missionaries in Hawai'i. Over the course of the 19th century, the missionaries in Hawai'i invested heavily in sugar plantations and helped take over the islands including the coup that overthrew Queen Lili'uokalani. They eventually led the movement for U.S. annexation of the island nation.

Over the past decade, the study of missionaries from the United States has grown in leaps and bounds. Much of this work presumes that missionaries were always outsiders to the societies they evangelized however their children often grew up speaking local languages without a trace of an accent, and seeing the world through local lenses. This process of acculturation signals that the work of conversion was often a two-way street, and that the experience of living abroad for several generations profoundly shaped communities of missionaries.

In the Middle East, the American missionaries become involved in activities later associated with the Peace Corps, from building schools to carrying out famine relief. In Hawai'i, the American missionaries were involved in the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani and the annexation of the islands to the United States. Finally, in the south of the United States, in the aftermath of the Civil War, missionaries built most of the historically black colleges and struggled against the racism of Jim Crow.

Owen MillerMiller's current research (including sources from the Congregational Library & Archives) brings these strands of missionary history together in the broader framework of world history. Research for his second book follows the story of a single missionary family, the Goodell or Goodale, across three generations from New England to the Ottoman Empire, Appalachian Mountains and Hawai'i.


Thursday, February 16th
12:00 - 1:00 pm

Free.
Register through Eventbrite.

 


image of Kailua Church, an excerpt from "The King's Country Seat, and Church at Kailua", frontispiece of Scenes in the Hawaiian Islands and California (1865) by Mary Evarts Anderson, via Wikimedia Commons

February 12, 2017

Due to the continuing severe winter weather and the city of Boston's recommendation, our reading room will be closed on Monday, February 13th.

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, February 14th.

We hope all of our local friends are safe and warm.

 


snowflake ornament image courtesy of Petr Kratochvil via Wikimedia Commons

Pages