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RG31/4/1 - First and Second Congregational Churches of Oberlin
Scope and Content

Records of the First and Second Congregational Churches of Oberlin date from 1834 to 2002. They include minutes of the Oberlin Society, the original governing body of the colony and church. The bulk of the collection consists of minutes, annual reports, correspondence, financial records, sermons of various pastors, and records of several women's voluntary and social organizations. Topics covered include church doctrine, fundraising, Christian education, volunteerism, missions, and church government. The College Archives stopped acquiring the records of First Church in 1997, at the end of the ministry of Douglas Long. The division was advanced by archivist Roland M. Baumann and endorsed by the Archives Advisory Committee. The records are organized in the following subgroups and series:

Subgroup I: First Church

Series 1: Oberlin Society
Series 2: Minutes of the Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, and Executive Council*
Series 3: Annual Reports
Series 4: Legal Documents
Series 5: General Correspondence
Series 6: Pastors and Other Personnel
Series 7: Boards and Committees
Series 8: Financial Records
Series 9: Building and Property Records
Series 10: District Meeting, 1867
Series 11: Membership and Stewardship
Series 12: Sunday School and Library
Series 13: Choir
Series 14: Voluntary and Social Organizations
Series 15: Printed Material
Series 16: Historical File
Series 17: Special Subjects
Series 18: Non-print Media
Series 19: Oral History Transcripts and Tape Recordings

Subgroup II: Second Congregational Church

Series 1: Minutes
Series 2: Annual Reports
Series 3: Legal documents
Series 4: Correspondence
Series 5: Financial Records
Series 6: Membership
Series 7: Elections
Series 8: Sunday School Library
Series 9: Choir
Series 10: Voluntary and Social Organizations
Series 11: Printed Materials
Series 12: Historical Files

* For Constitution, please see Series 11. Membership.

Series Descriptions

Subgroup I: First Church, 1834-2002 (21.9 l.f.)

Records of First Church include records of the Oberlin Society, First Church of Christ in Oberlin, First Congregational Church, and United Church (Congregational). Among the materials in this subgroup are minutes, reports, correspondence, financial and legal documents, membership records, and records of women's voluntary and social organizations, the Sunday School, and the choir. Subgroup I is arranged in seventeen series: 1. Oberlin Society. 2. Minutes of the Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, and Executive Council. 3. Annual Reports. 4. Legal Documents. 5. General Correspondence. 6. Pastors and Other Personnel. 7. Boards and Committees. 8. Financial Records. 9. Building and Property Records. 10. District Meeting, 1867. 11. Membership. 12. Sunday School and Library. 13. Choir. 14. Voluntary and Social Organizations. 15. Printed Material. 16. Historical File. 17. Non-print media.

Series 1: Oberlin Society, 1834-1914 (.4 l.f.)

Constitution, articles of incorporation, and minutes of the Oberlin Presbyterian Society, known primarily as the Oberlin Society, the original governing body of the colony and church. Also includes contracts and other types of agreements entered into by the Society. Arranged chronologically.

Series 2: Minutes of the Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, and Executive Council, 1913-1991 (2.0 l.f.)

Minutes of the three principal governing bodies of the church. Board minutes cover primarily matters relating to the budget, church-owned properties, and church personnel. Also includes correspondence carried out in behalf of the Board. Executive Committee/Council minutes cover similar territory, but focus more on church education, programs, pulpit-supply, and social activities. (Please note: includes minutes of the Annual Congregational Meeting, plus Special Meetings.) Arranged chronologically within each section.

Series 3: Annual Reports, 1908-88, 1992-95 (.4 l.f.)

Annual reports include statements of receipts and expenditures, reports of the Board of Trustees, the minister, the Board of Deacons, and various clubs and committees. Arranged chronologically.

Series 4: Legal Documents, 1920-30 (.2 l.f.)

Legal records regarding the union of the First and Second Congregational Churches to form the United Church (Congregational), including articles of agreement, minutes of the first United Church meeting and results of an election of officers, certificate of incorporation, and deeds of property. Arranged chronologically.

Series 5: General Correspondence, 1836-1972, incl. (.6 l.f.)

Letters received by the church making charges against its members, letters transferring or requesting transfer of membership, letters from various groups (i.e., Oberlin Bible Society, Home Missionary Society, Women's League, Board of Deacons) discussing their ministries, letters of appointment, acceptance, and resignation from church officers, and correspondence with accompanying documentation regarding the merger of the Congregational Christian Churches with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form the United Church of Christ. Arranged chronologically.

Series 6: Pastors and Other Personnel, 1850, 1871, 1876-1998, n.d. (1.4 l.f.)

Sermons, writings, and correspondence of pastors of First Church, and lessons and sermons prepared by visiting speakers and interns. Arranged chronologically.

Series 7: Boards and Committees, 1871-1913, 1930, 1932, 1946-1998 (.4 l.f.)

Minutes of the Board of Christian Work (1871-99) and the Board of Deacons and Leaders (1900-13), a list of all church officers and committee members (1946-88), and rosters, reports, minutes, and correspondence of several committees, including the Building Committee and the Religious Education Committee. Records of the Board of Christian Work and Board of Deacons are filed first, followed by the list of church officers and then lesser committees in alphabetical order.

Series 8: Financial Records, 1839, 1853-55, 1858-89, 1897- 1994 (4.1 l.f.)

Annual financial reports, records maintained by the church treasurer, information on fundraising, especially the sale of stock and pew rentals, and ledgers and cash books showing income and expenditures. Annual financial reports and treasurer's records are filed first, followed by files on fundraising, oversized bound volumes, and receipts and invoices. Each section is arranged in chronological order.

Series 9: Building and Property Records, 1836-45, 1875-76, c. 1909-46, 1927-28, 1958-2000 (.4 l.f.)

Deeds, correspondence, reports, and drawings regarding property owned by First Church, including land, buildings, and church organs. Includes records regarding the James Brand House.

Series 10: District Meeting, 1867 (.2 l.f.)

Reports of prayer meetings held in individual "districts" of the community that the church had designated. Lists numbers and names of people present and absent and gives a general report. Arranged in no particular order.

Series 11: Membership, 1834-1947, 1987, n.d. (2.05 l.f.)

Confession of faith and covenant (n.d.), Constitution of First Church (1988), manuals for members (1865-1913), registers and directories of members (1839-1936, 1987), minutes of meetings of the church body (1834-39, 1965-67), and records of trials of members for violating the church covenant or to settle disputes between members (1837-64). Arranged chronologically within each document type. Includes baptisms (1921-1963) and the Every Member Canvass (1921-47; Stewardship, 1967-77).

Series 12: Sunday School and Library, 1871-1915, 1921-36, 1970-71, n.d. (1.25 l.f.)

Rolls of members of Sunday School and Day School classes, record of the Women's Bible Class, and catalogs of books in the Sunday School Library. Arranged chronologically.

Series 13: Choir, 1838-67, 1879-1919 (.6 l.f.)

Constitution, lists of members, rolls of attendance, and concert programs. Chronological within each document type.

Series 14: Voluntary and Social Organizations, 1874-1997 (1.25 l.f.)

Constitution, minutes, programs, financial records, and reports of groups formed for purposes of Christian service and fellowship. Primarily women's organizations, but also includes records of Boy Scout troops. Notable are the records (1869-1931) of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of Oberlin and its successor bodies: minutes, treasurers' books, one library accession book, and printed programs of Society meetings. See historical sketch attached to preceding "Administrative History." Arranged alphabetically by name of organization.

Series 15: Printed Material, 1868-2002 (5 l.f.)

Newsletters, brochures, cookbooks, yearbooks, and orders of service (complete set from 1898 through February 1989). Arranged chronologically.

Series 16: Historical File, 1836-1984 (1.25 l.f.)

Historical sketches, scrapbooks, clippings, and a typescript transcription of "church papers, 1836-40" prepared by Robert S. Fletcher, probably in the late 1930's or early 1940's. Arranged chronologically.

Series 17: Special Subjects, 1934-89 (.4 l.f.)

Series 18: Non-print Media, 1844, c. 1908-14, n.d. (.2 l.f.)

Photographs, seating plans, and metal pew tags. No particular arrangement.

Series 19: Oral History Transcripts and Tape Recordings, 1994 (.2 l.f.)


Subgroup II: Second Congregational Church, 1860-1990 (5.25 l.f.)

Minutes, reports, correspondence, financial records, and documents regarding church membership comprise the bulk of this subgroup. Arranged in twelve series: 1. Minutes. 2. Annual Reports. 3. Legal Documents. 4. Correspondence. 5. Financial Records. 6. Membership. 7. Elections. 8. Sunday School. 9. Choir. 10. Voluntary and Social Organizations. 11. Printed Materials. 12. Historical file.

Series 1: Minutes, 1861-1916, 1919-20 (.2 l.f.)

Minutes of Trustee and Council meetings. Arranged chronologically.

Series 2: Annual reports, 1900-19 (.2 l.f.)

Statements of income and expenditures, reports of the pastor, trustees, deacons, and various committees on the year's activities and accomplishments. Arranged chronologically.

Series 3: Legal documents, 1865, 1908 (.2 l.f.)

Records regarding the organization of Second Congregational Church in 1860 and the sale of real estate in 1908. Arranged chronologically.

Series 4: Correspondence, 1865-1915 (.2 l.f.)

Miscellaneous correspondence carried out in behalf of the church. Arranged chronologically.

Series 5: Financial Records, 1888-1920 (.75 l.f.)

Consists of Treasurer’s reports, income and expenditure records, pew rentals, and offering envelopes (sample for 1909, 1917).

Series 6: Membership, 1860-1926 (.75 l.f.)

Applications, rosters of members and affiliated missionaries, manuals for members, and one large volume that records names of members and their dates of acceptance and dismissal, lists charter members, provides a statistical summary of membership, and records minutes of meetings of the church body. Arranged chronologically.

Series 7: Elections, 1901-20 (.2 l.f.)

Ballots for election of officers, 1901-20, and a record of a vote, 1913. Arranged chronologically.

Series 8: Sunday School Library, 1868-1904 (.5 l.f.)

Catalogs and register of use of the Sunday School Library. Arranged chronologically.

Series 9: Choir, 1860-1916 (.2 l.f.)

Constitution, minutes, list of members, roll book, year book, and biennial reports of activities. Arranged chronologically.

Series 10: Voluntary and Social Organizations, 1867-1920 (.4 l.t.)

Records of the Ladies' Society and the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. Arranged chronologically within each group.

Series 11: Printed Materials, 1872-1920, n.d., incl. (1.25 l.f.)

Orders of service, year books, seating chart, and miscellaneous programs and pamphlets. Arranged chronologically.

Series 12: Historical file, 1860-1990, n.d. (.4 l.f.)

Clippings, scrapbook of the Women's Class, historical sketches, list of pastors, and information regarding organs. Arranged chronologically.



These records were received in February 1971, December 1972, and November 1977 from the Oberlin College Library; March 1974 from First Church; January 1983 from Don Van Dyke; September 1998 from First Church; April 1998, October 1999 from Peg Lenord; October 2000 from Mary Louise VanDyke; August 2001 from Tammy Martin; and June 2000, January 2003 from Margaret Leonard. Orders of service and occasionally other miscellaneous material were brought to the Archives at regular intervals by Gertrude Jacob between 1966 and February 1989.

Related Materials

Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the First and Second Congregational Churches of Oberlin (31/6/12); Lorain County Congregational Association (31/38); Oberlin Bible Society (31/38); Charles Grandison Finney Papers (2/2). See also 1997/135

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