1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Inventory

5.   Subjects

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    R.I.H.S. Library page

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 Plymouth Union Congregational Church Records

 Church, Providence, R.I.

 Records, 1720-1974

 Size: 8 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 139

 Processed by: Ruth Flowers, December 1993

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The Congregational Church on the West Side of the Providence River (also known as The Congregational Church of Christ) was founded in 1720. Through the next two centuries, the church changed its name and location several times. It was sometimes referred to as Paedo-Baptist emphasizing the Congregational belief in infant baptism. In 1807 it was renamed the Pacific Congregational Church (and Society) of Providence and, still later, became the Richmond Street Congregational Church. (see Book #5)

            At about this time (1825), a Union Congregational Church was formed by members of Pacific who left to merge with Calvinist Congregational, a previous splinter group. It is not clear how long this first Union Church existed, but it was no longer a functioning church in 1871 when Richmond Street and High Street Churches merged and named themselves Union Congregational Church. (The High Street Church had been founded in 1833 by groups of members from Beneficent and Richmond Street Churches.)

            This Union Congregational Church was active for the next fifty years when it united with Plymouth Congregational Church. Plymouth Church had been founded in 1878. Books #41, 42 and 59 describe its organization.

            The church resulting from this merger was named Plymouth Union Congregational Church and it continued for about fifty more years when it closed and its members were absorbed into other Congregational Churches in Providence.

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Scope and content:

            The Plymouth Union Congregational Church materials date from 1720 to the early 1970's. Included are ninety-seven books that contain minutes of Executive Board and Trustee meetings, Treasurers' reports and lists of members, baptisms, marriages, and pew rentals.

            The earlier books include descriptions of admissions and dismissals of members and ministers. The 20th century books consist more of minutes of meetings, Sunday School attendance records and the activities of women's organizations such as the Ladies Union and the Missionary Guild.

            Paper materials, filed in four boxes, include financial documents such as bills, receipts and insurance policies. They also include correspondence to and from ministers and from domestic missionaries. Series include:


Series I: Richmond Street Congregational Church (originally the Congregational Church on the West Side of the Providence River, a.k.a. Congregational Church of Christ a.k.a. Pacific Congregational Church/Society) 1720 - 1871

            Series II: High Street Congregational Church, 1833 - 1871

            Series III: Union Congregational Church, 1871 - 1927

            Series IV: Plymouth Congregational Church, 1878 - 1927

            Series V: Plymouth Union Congregational Church, 1927 - early 1970s

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            When Plymouth Union Congregational Church was formed in 1927, Union Congregational Church gave the Rhode Island Historical Society all books and records of High Street and Richmond Street Congregational Churches. A written agreement and an inventory of the records is filed in Box 1; these records were accessioned in 1930. Additional record books arrived in 1946 from an unknown source. J. Wesley Prince donated 33 volumes in four gifts on behalf of the church between 1972 and 1976. Mildred Longo donated two pew deeds in 1993. Other records remain with former church officers.

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Series I: Richmond Street Congregational Church

Book 1

A transcription of letters and records through March 1825

Book 2

Identical to Book 1, ending with death of Elder Snow in 1803

Book 3

1743 - 1823 Baptisms, admissions, marriages, church proceedings Beginning of first page is badly faded. It is entitled CHURCH RECORDS and the first 8 lines read as follows: "A narrative of the proceedings of The Congregational Church of Christ in Providence against the Reverent Mr. Josiah Cotten who was their minister who appeared to them manifestly unworthy of that office did depose him and clearly loose him from that office; this Church having taken notice of sum of Mr. Cotten's conduct in a particular maner in the year 1743 when he was offended with a particular brother; did not follow the rule of the gospel . . . . " Note at bottom of page 16 explains corrections that can be seen throughout the preceding pages of book. Page 46: March 31, 1808, Articles of Faith and Covenant of the Pacific Congregational Church in the Town of Providence were voted upon and accepted.

Book 4

1748 - 1850 Marriages, baptisms, names of pastors. Front of book notes all records in book were copied to city records in 1884. This book includes period when church was called Union Congregational Church and by end of book, church has become Richmond Street Congregational. Final page shows samples of Certificates of Marriage and Publishment, 1828.

Book 5

1808 - 1852 Incorporation; pew diagram in front of book advertises auction of pews. Financial records, land purchases, costs of building meeting house in 1828.

Book 6

1825 - 1849 Union Congregational Church (the 1st) History in front starts with 1721 and refers to church originally constituted as The Congregational Church on the West side of Providence under The Reverend Joseph Snow. Articles of Faith and Church Covenant.

Books 7 through 14 (19 books)

1825 - 1873 Richmond Street Congregational membership lists, pew lists, general church and Sunday School records.

Box 1 Various papers and historical notes

Series II: High Street Congregational Church

Book 15

1833 - 1871 Beginning of church through time of merger with Richmond Street to form Union Congregational Church in 1871. Agreement of sale of church property for $27,500, April, 1871.

Book 16

1834 - 1853 History, membership, baptisms

Books 17 - 21 (7 books)

1834 - 1871 Membership and pew lists (some addresses) baptisms, deaths, names of pastors, deacons and church officers. Standing Committee Records. Book 20 (1853 - 1871) is indexed. Page 379 records vote to unite with Richmond Street Church and become Union Congregational Church.

Box 1 Various papers

Series III: Union Congregational Church (and Society)

Book 22

1869 - 1927 1869 Charter. Meeting records through merger with Plymouth Congregational Church in 1927. Membership lists.

Book 23

1871 - 1902 Membership lists of uniting churches (Richmond and High Streets). Church Council records, dismissals, admissions, baptisms, deaths. This is a detailed book; many names and records of actions and difficulties, some dating back to 1814.

Book 24 - 36

1871 - 1927 Baptisms, admissions, dismissals, deaths, pew lessee and membership lists. Standing Committee, Treasurer and Sunday School Records. Book 24 is indexed in margins. Book 27 includes detailed names and addresses.

Book 36A - 36B

1879 - 1905 Record of Library Loans, Union for Christian Work (Probably an organization in Union Congregational Church).

Book 37

1896 - 1897 Union League Lyceum. Debating society, debate topics are listed.

Book 38 - 39

1885 - 1903 Young Peoples Society of Christian Endeavor (YPSCE), meeting notes, constitution, membership list, Treasurer's records.

Box 1 Agreement between Union Congregational Church and Rhode Island Historical Society for transfer of books and records, 1927. Various papers. Some historical notes written in 1906.

Box 2 Various papers, 1877 - 1900.

Box 3 Various papers, 1897 - 1927, including correspondence from domestic missionaries alphabetically filed (list at end of finding aid).

Series IV: Plymouth Congregational Church


Book 40. 1870 - 1879 Membership list of Colwell Street Christian Church which became a part of Plymouth Congregational Church.

Book 41. 1877 - 1889 Account of "Early steps that led to the organization of Plymouth Congregational Church."

Book 42. 1880 - 1890 Incorporation of church, membership lists

Book 43. 1891 - 1898 Meeting notes - building new church

Book 44. 1888 - 1898 Church Records, margins indexed

Book 45. 1898 - 1927 Clerk's Records

Book 46. 1880 - 1894 Executive Board Records (Board of Trustees) Building and furnishing of church 1880 - 1882; Membership list

Books 47 - 49. 1882 - 1927 Executive Board Records (Board of Trustees)

Book 50. 1882 - 1890 Standing Committee Records, examination and admission of member applicants (many members' names)

Book 51 - 53. 1890 - 1927 Standing Committee Records

Book 54. 1888 - 1911 Treasurer's Book

Book 55. 1889 - 1900 Record of contributions, names and amounts

Book 56. 1915 - 1921 Daughters of the Covenant treasurer's book. Dues paid, members.

Book 57. 1915 - 1959 Contributions for specific uses: Anti-saloon, ministerial relief etc.

Book 58. 1883 - 1885 Sunday School Records, Weekly attendance averages 250, names listed in back are share holders in "The Morning Star" a missionary vessel to be built by Sunday Schools of the United States.

Book 59. 1883 - 1924 Records of Governing Body of Sunday School, with brief history.

Book 60. 1884 - 1910 Sunday School Board records (Plymouth Congregational Church?)


Books 61 - 63. 1882 - 1900 Plymouth YPSCE, formation, membership list, minutes of meetings, misc committee notes

Book 64 - 68B. 1883 - 1942 Secretary's minutes and other records of Ladies Sewing Circle, Ladies Union, Daughters of the Covenant, Whittlesey Memorial Circle and Missionary Circle. These were womens' organizations that studied the bible, current events, history and literature as well as raising money for the church, supporting missionaries, and doing local charity work.

Book 69. 1888 - 1896 Weekly Prayer Meeting attendance record

Books 70 -73A. 1893 - 1927 Constitution, meeting records, member list of Plymouth Institute (Plymouth Men's Club, Plymouth Brotherhood). This was a mens' organization, renamed several times, that met to discuss books and current events and hold formal debates. Book 70 includes debate topics and outcomes.

Book 74. 1919. Guest Book

Box 4 Various papers 1870 - 1927

Series V: Plymouth Union Congregational Church 1927 - c.1974


Book 75. 1927 - 1939 Trustee's Record Book, includes record of agreement to sell Union Congregational Church property on Broad Street in 1936.

Book 76. 1929 - 1972 Flower Committee Reports Accounting of cost, kinds of flowers, names of shut-in's

Book 77. 1946 - 1968 Records and some history of Daughters of the Covenant; list of presidents and new members in back of book.

Box 4 Various papers, 1927 - l946

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Churches - Providence, R.I.

Congregational Church of Christ (Providence, R.I.)

Cotton, Josiah

High Street Congregational Church (Providence, R.I.)

Missions - United States

Pacific Congregational Church (Providence, R.I.)

Plymouth Union Congregational Church (Providence, R.I.)

Plymouth Congregational Church (Providence, R.I.)

Providence, R.I. - Churches

Richmond Street Congregational Church (Providence, R.I.)

Union Congregational Church (Providence, R.I.)

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