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Boston, Mass. Park Street Church records, 1804-1976, 2009

Identifier: RG1284

Scope and Contents

This collection documents the history of the Park Street Church, originally known as the Religious Improvement Society. It includes vital statistics, church and society records, financials, voluntary organization activities, ministers, missionaries, celebratory events, facilities and maintenance, and Shawmut Church records from 1809 to 1978. Included in the records are correspondence, ledgers, reports, minutes, directories, photographs, audio recordings. Gaps of information exist in this collection, as well as missing records. The church retains their most recent records, from the 1970s to the present.


  • 1804-1976, 2009


Restrictions on Access

Access to some of the physical items is restricted. When microfilm surrogates exist, they are to be used instead of originals. Exceptions may be granted in cases of extenuating circumstance, at the discretion of the Archivist.

Restrictions on Use

Items in this collection are subject to U.S. Copyright Law. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine the copyright status of collection items and to secure any permissions necessary for their reproduction and publication. Requests for permission to publish material must be discussed with the archivist or librarian.

Biographical / Historical

The beginnings of Park Street Church date to 1804 when a "Religious Improvement Society" began holding weekly lectures and prayer meetings in Boston. After meeting for 6 years, the society formed the Park Street Church in February 1809 with 26 charter members. Less than a year later, in January 1810, the church dedicated its newly constructed meetinghouse on the corner of Park and Tremont Streets. A plaque on the building's façade states that the church has been Trinitarian, Evangelical, and Congregational since its inception.

Park Street Church quickly became the site of significant historical events including the founding of the Handel and Haydn Society in 1815, the American Temperance Society in 1826, the Animal Rescue League in 1889, and the NAACP in 1910. It also served to host William Lloyd Garrison's first anti-slavery speech in 1829, the first public performance of the hymn "America" in 1831, and Charles Sumner's famous address, "The War System of Nations", in 1849.

In the late 1800s, Park Street's membership declined sharply, and the resultant monetary loss led to a reconstruction of the church building: the meetinghouse was raised to the second floor so that the basement and front of the church could be rented to commercial stores. Financial distress continued and the Park Street property was nearly sold to the Boston Herald in the early 1900s. Membership began to recover during the following decades, and in the mid-1940s, the stores were dismantled and the basement was returned to religious uses. In 1954 the Church purchased the adjoining property at No. 1 Park Street. The church continued to expand in 1993 when it acquired No. 2 and No. 3 Park Street.


Edward D. Griffin
Sereno E. Dwight
Edward Beecher
Joel H. Linsley
Silas Aiken
Andrew Leete Stone
William H.H. Murray
John L. Withrow
1876-1887; 1898-1907
David Gregg
Isaac J. Lansing
Arcturus Z. Conrad
Harold J. Ockenga
Paul E. Toms
David C. Fisher
Gordon P. Hugenberger
1997-2014 (current)


33.86 Cubic Feet (68 cases)

Language of Materials



The beginnings of Park Street Church date to 1804 when a "Religious Improvement Society" began holding weekly lectures and prayer meetings in Boston. Collection includes vital statistics, church records, Park Street Society and financial records, voluntary organizations, historical materials, Shawmut Church records.


The series is arranged into six series based upon topic.
Series 1: Vital Statistics, 1809-1976
Series 3: Park Street Society and Financial Records, 1808-1969
Series 4: Voluntary Organizations, 1816-1968
Series 5: Historical Materials, 1810-1974

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

To access digital user’s copies via online-interface, a java-enabled web browser is required. Internet Explorer 8.x and later, Firefox 5.x and later, Opera 12 and later, Safari 5.x and later, or any version of Google Chrome are recommended.

Acquisition Information

Collection was first given to the Congregational Library and Archives in 1964 by deposit from Ms. Elizabeth Vetterlein, Archivist at Park Street Church. Since then, small additional deposits have happened intermittently. As of December 2018, we still expect to have additional accruals.


Since 1964, the church has deposited material to the archives, further accruals are not planned but could take place.

Related Materials

Boston's historic Park Street Church : the story of an Evangelical landmark by Garth M. Rosell. 17.11.1 B65.5 PARSC BR 2009

1809 and 1984 : the responses of American churches to world mission by James M. Phillips, 21.2.

A history of Park Street Church : with special emphasis on the missionary program by Chrales L. Smith 17.11.1 B65.5 PARSC S H

Park Street Pulpit. Range 132

The Park Street Spire. Range 132

Local Church History information, 17.11.1 B65.5 PARSC, 2 boxes

The library holds a number of sermons delivered by ministers of Park Street Church. Please review the online catalog for more details.

The Image Collection has several images of Park Street Church and people associated with the congregation.

Processing Information

Processed by Jessica Steytler in 2014, using DACS Second Edition. Collection was updated for ArchivesSpace by William McCarthy in 2017.
Boston, Mass. Park Street Church records, 1804-1976, 2009
Jessica Steytler, William McCarthy
Description rules
Dacs2 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Congregational Library & Archives Repository

14 Beacon Street
Suite 200
Boston MA 02108