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OBITUARY DATABASE

The Congregational Library & Archives' obituary database indexes obituaries for over 30,000 Congregational Christian ministers and missionaries appearing in a range of Congregational publications. The obituaries are drawn from over four centuries (1600 to the present day), with the majority being from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Obituaries can be an excellent source for historical and genealogical research. They can include valuable biographical information about these individuals, such as dates for births, ordinations, and deaths, as well as the names of churches, organizations, and/or mission stations where they served.

The database includes the following information:

  • The name of the individual;

  • The name of their spouse (if recorded);

  • The publication in which their obituary appeared (“source”);

  • The year of that publication; and

  • The volume, issue, and page number on which the obituary appeared.

An individual can be located by either scrolling through the name column or by using the search function in the upper right of the table (where the magnifying glass icon is). Once you have located the individual, scroll down to the “Frequently Asked Questions” section to match the “source” abbreviation with the digitized publication. You will then have to navigate through the digitized publication to find the matching volume, issue, and page number.

For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions below the table.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • What do the abbreviations mean?

    Many of the publications in the list have digital versions available online. The links below will take you to either our catalog record or guide you toward the digital version. If you are looking for an entry that is not digitized, you can reach out to ref@14beacon.org, and we can assist you.

     

    ACU YB

    Yearbook of the American Congregational Union   
    American Congregational Year-Book

    Builders

    Builders of a Commonwealth by Truman O. Douglass

    CC YB

    Yearbook of the Congregational and Christian Churches   
    Yearbook of the Congregational Christian Churches

    Cong'l Q

    Congregational Quarterly

    Cong'l YB

    Congregational Year-Book

    CPNE

    Biographical Sketches of the Congregational Pastors of New England by Emerson Davis

    Life & Light

    Life and Light for Woman   
    Life and Light for Heathen Women

    Missionary Herald

    Missionary Herald at Home and Abroad

    MH Newsletter

    Missionary Herald Newsletter

    NACCC YB

    National Association of Congregational Christian Churches Handbook   
    National Association of Congregational Christian Churches Yearbook

    UCC YB

    United Church of Christ Yearbook (not available digitally)

    Vinton

    John Vinton's Biographies of ABCFM Missionaries (often referred to as "The Vinton books")

    Welsh

    Memorial Volume of Welsh Congregationalists in Pennsylvania, 1797-1931 by David Jones

    Whole Earth

    Whole Earth Newsletter

  • What does a question mark in a name field mean?

    A question mark indicates that the person in question is referenced, or implied to have existed, but their first name was not recorded in the source. This occurs most commonly with women. In some rare instances, the subject of a necrology was only listed by their last name. In those case we attempted to gather the first name from other sources.

  • Why don't some listings have a year?

    Sources like the yearbooks were published annually, and the dates recorded are the publication date, not individual dates of death. Other sources, such as the Vinton books, were not published annually, and so no dates were recorded.

  • Why do two listings for the same person have different information?

    Because our database pulls its information from multiple sources, some individuals have been recorded more than once. We recommend reviewing all sources that come up, as they may contain different information.

  • I know the person I'm looking for was a Congregationalist. Why aren't they listed?

    There could be several reasons why a someone is not listed:

    1. It was common, particularly during the nineteenth century, for ministers to change denominations over the course of their careers. Even if they were ordained as a Congregationalist, a minister who was not a Congregationalist when they died would probably not have a necrology submitted to these yearbooks.

    2. The Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC) does not include necrologies in its annual yearbook. If the minister in question was not associated with any other group, they will not have a necrology entry.

    3. The person in question may fall outside the current scope of our database. It includes obituaries for missionaries from 1810 to 2011, and clergy from the early 1600s to the present. If you are looking for clergy who passed after 2011, contact us at ref@14beacon.org, and we can try to find any information for you.

    4. The National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC) includes laypeople who are not clergy or missionaries in its necrology lists. Because they do not fall into either category, they are not currently included in our index.

  • What is the copyright policy in relation to the Obituary database?

    Due to copyright restrictions, we can only provide excerpts from certain periodicals and more recent yearbooks on an individual basis. Please contact us to request those materials, or for help finding copies of the publications in your area.

  • How can I find more information about Congregational ministers?

    There is a wealth of information in our collection, including memorials, ordination sermons, church histories and anniversary materials, and records of disbanded churches. Take a look at our online catalog. It is a work in progress containing more than 89,000 item records with more added regularly.