New England’s Hidden Histories is a digital project of the Congregational Library & Archives that digitizes and provides access to early New England Congregational church records.
The project comprises an online collection of manuscript Congregational church records from approximately 1620 to 1850, which includes letters, sermons, diaries, conversion narratives (relations of faith), church disciplinary cases, account books, as well as lists of baptisms, members, marriages, and deaths. These valuable, but often overlooked, documents provide firsthand accounts of a broad range of community events, from ecclesiastical councils and town meetings to witch trials and revolutionary debates. Because local and colonial (later state) governments typically supported Congregational churches from the early seventeenth century until as late as 1816 in Connecticut, 1817 in New Hampshire, and 1833 in Massachusetts, these are essentially community records. These records provide historically significant information, preserving the voices of individuals and context about communities that can help us more fully understand the lives of early New Englanders.
New England’s Hidden Histories works in partnership with libraries, archives, museums, churches, and other cultural institutions in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont to digitize these records. The project also produces literal transcriptions of these early documents to increase accessibility, largely through the efforts of volunteer transcribers. Records with transcriptions available are indicated in each section. Please note that many of the items in New England’s Hidden Histories are physically located at other institutions. You will find the original repository listed as the source in the resource details for each record.
The records are arranged into three sections: Church Records (listed by state and alphabetically by town), Personal Papers and Documents (listed alphabetically by name), and Conference and Association Records (listed alphabetically by group), which can be accessed through the links below.
If you are new to our digital archive, you can find a set of Guides for New Users and FAQs here.
The map below illustrates the locations and types of records available through New England’s Hidden Histories and the locations of our partner institutions.
Zoom in and click on the icons to find out more about the records and for links to the digitized collections.
About the Project
New England's Hidden Histories began at the Congregational Library & Archives in 2005 as a small-scale digitization project, in partnership with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale, to preserve some of the oldest written Congregational church records in New England. The Congregational Library & Archives has been awarded several major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Council on Library and Information Resources, which support the project and its partnerships with other cultural institutions.
New England's Hidden Histories has made many documents available to the public for the first time, and most of them available online for the first time. Since the project began, NEHH has digitized more than 100,000 pages of church records and personal papers. In an effort to further increase accessibility, many of these records have also been transcribed. Project volunteers have produced 20,000 pages of literal transcriptions so far.
This project continues to grow as new records and transcriptions of records become available. If you have Congregational church records that you would like to make a part of the New England’s Hidden Histories project, or if you have questions, please get in touch.
If you use records from New England’s Hidden Histories in your research, please let us know! Please use the following credit line: Courtesy of the Congregational Library & Archives, Boston, Massachusetts (collection name, record group/mss. number and/or item identification, if available).
Questions about New England’s Hidden Histories? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEHH HAS RECEIVED GENEROUS SUPPORT FROM
This digital resource has been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.