Our Mission

The Congregational Library & Archives fosters a deeper understanding of the spiritual, intellectual, cultural, and civic dimensions of the Congregational story and its ongoing relevance to contemporary society by collecting, preserving, and sharing materials and by actively engaging with faith communities, students, scholars, and the general public.


Our History

The Congregational Library began in 1853 when eight ministers, a lawyer, a doctor, and a widow donated 56 books from their personal collections. Over more than a century and a half, those collections have grown to encompass a library of 225,000 books, pamphlets, periodicals, and manuscripts and a digital archive with more than 110,000 images, many drawn from our New England’s Hidden Histories Project.

Today the Congregational Library & Archives is a thriving, internationally-recognized center for researchers of all kinds, from professional historians, to church members curious about their roots, and anyone wanting to understand more about a religious tradition that has deeply informed American culture. The Congregational story is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, beginning with the seventeenth-century puritans, continuing in the activism of nineteenth-century abolitionists and social reformers, and seen in the work modern-day Congregational churches devote toward creating a just and open society.

We believe that the stories of the past are an essential resource for twenty-first century life, providing depth and balance in an ever-changing world. In that spirit we are continually updating our learning opportunities for students, educators, and history enthusiasts. As an independent research library, we serve professional scholars, graduate students, church historians, and genealogists who work in our historical collection, as well as anyone interested in learning more about Congregational history.

The Congregational Library & Archives brings old and new together, carrying forward a tradition of care for the world's future by preserving and interpreting the 400+ year Congregational story.