History Matters
E-News from the Congregational Library & Archives
February, 2015  
 Church Anniversary Workshop 
 April 25, 2015
New Life
Old Stories

Trinitarian Congregational Church.

Concord, MA

Workshops include

Managing social media

Writing your own history

Records Stewardship

Planning worship services 



Congregationalist Editorial April 1918


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Lemuel Haynes 1753-1833,  Freed 1774


As I was reading about the remarkable Lemuel Haynes, I could have thought that his story was set in the 20th century rather than the two hundred years earlier. Abandoned by his African American father and Caucasian mother, Lemuel Hayne achieved many firsts, as a former indentured servant who rose to become a celebrated preacher and internationally popular author, he was outspoken on issues of liberty and justice and completely dedicated to his Calvinist and Federalist beliefs.


"Liberty is equally as precious to a black man, as it is to a white one, and bondage equally as intolerable to the one as it is to the other,"


Primarily self-educated, he was offered a place at Dartmouth College but opted to stay in his native Connecticut to study with successors of Jonathan Edwards. He served in majority white churches in Granville, MA, Rutland VT and later in Granville, NY. Like many of his profession, he married one of his flock, but it was Elizabeth Babbitt who, according to one source, proposed to him in 1783. Their interracial marriage produced 10 children who went on to live productive and prominent lives.

A popular figure known for a caustic wit, Haynes was recognized by preachers, civic leaders and academics through his prolific writings and poetry. It was his preaching that affected his congregations; one of his parishioners wrote: "I never heard a sermon from my minister without gaining something new."[1]

What pastor would not like to win this praise?

Cary Hewitt

Read more about what others say.

Find more that is available at the Congregational Library &Archives 

[1]Sketches of the Life and Character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A. M.: For Many Years Pastor of a Church in Rutland, Vt., and Late in Granville, New-York

Timothy Mather Cooley- January 1, 1837




Last month on January 15, President Obama hosted a screening of the critically acclaimed film Selma. The movie recounts the1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery. It opens with Dr. King's acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo and ends in Montgomery, Alabama a little more than three months later. But the story extends far beyond those miles and few months; it is a microcosm of the Civil Rights Movement.

One hundred years earlier, a far different film was screened in the White House. Sponsored by President Woodrow Wilson, The Birth of a Nation became the first film ever shown in the presidential residence. D.W. Griffith's film included actors in blackface and heroic portraits of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. While the film was wildly popular, there were violent protests across the country. In Boston the fight against showing the film was led by Monroe Trotter, editor of The Liberator. Along the way, Trotter was betrayed by many, but The Congregationalist assistant editor, Rolfe Cobleigh advocated for the cause in person and in print from his headquarters here at Congregational House.

In his most recent book The Birth of a Nation, Dick Lehr recounts the public confrontation that "roiled America, pitting black against white, Hollywood against Boston, and free speech against civil rights."[1] It was complicated and messy, setting the standard for the civil actions of the 1950's and 1960's and continuing to the present day.

Lehr used CL&A resources in the course of his investigation.

At the Congregationalist Library and Archives visitors can access numerous issues of The Liberator and bound volumes of The Congregationalist. Dick Lehr's book is available at Amazon and to our members at the Library.


[1] Jacket cover, The Birth of a Nation, 2014

Dick Lehr, Pulitzer Prize finalist for Black Mass, Whitey Bulger, the FBI, A devil's Deal will be speaking at the Library & Archives  this spring.


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