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First Unitarian Church of Peabody Records

First Unitarian Church of Peabody Records

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Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:First Unitarian Church of Peabody
Title:First Unitarian Church of Peabody Records
Quantity:0.75 linear feet (2 boxes)
Abstract:The First Unitarian Church of Peabody Records consist of administrative records, financial records, records of pastoral activities such as marriages and baptisms, and records of church social activities.
Collection Number:MSS 292

Series List

SERIES I. Church Administration Records
SERIES II. Financial Records
SERIES III. Pastoral Activities
SERIES IV. Church Social Activities

Scope and Content Note

The First Unitarian Church of Peabody Records consist of administrative records, financial records, records of pastoral activities such as marriages and baptisms, and records of church social activities. They are divided into four series.

Series I. Church Administration Records includes a volume with the original church covenant (1827) and members (1827-46); a record book that does not contains copies of church meetings but does contain copies of letters and church resolutions, the Rev. Edward I. Galvin's record of marriages, deaths, and church events (1868-71), the Rev. John W. Hudson's records of funerals and marriages (1873-1917), and a list of ministers (1898-1912) succeeding Hudson; and miscellaneous reports and correspondence, including a list of families in the Unitarian Society in 1889-90.

Series II. Financial Records includes a promissory note book (1826-29); pew assessments (1833, 1840-41, and undated); a treasurer's book (1890-98) that also includes bequests (1876-97) and insurance information (1894-1903); a treasurer's book (1909-18); bequests (1936-39); and miscellaneous papers removed from the treasurer's book (1937-46).

Series III. Pastoral Activities includes marriage, baptism, and funeral records. Notebooks kept by Rev. Charles C. Sewell list marriages (1827-42), baptisms and deaths (1827-32). A notebook compiled by Mrs. John W. Hudson (189?) includes copies of these same records: marriages (1827-41), baptisms (1827-32), and deaths (1827-32). The record book (B1 F2) includes information on funerals and marriages by the Rev. John Hudson (1873-1917). Programs for church services (1887-1938) and published copies of sermons by the Reverends Kippis, Lamson, and Hudson are also included here.

Series IV. Church Social Activities includes programs for minor dramas and plays, and club events. A handwritten account of the fiftieth anniversary celebration in 1876 supplies a detailed report on the history of the church and its several pastors and founders. Also in this series is an undated photograph of the church interior, and a newspaper article from 1873 on the history of the church.

Historical Sketch

The First Unitarian Church of Peabody was organized on 1 January 1825 in what was then part of Danvers, Massachusetts, and was dedicated 26 July 1826 with thirty-three members. The church was built upon an empty field and the new road to it became Park Street. The exterior was to resemble the church in Lynn and was built by Jabez Smith. Nathaniel West built the parsonage in 1830.

The Reverend Charles Chauncey Sewell was pastor from 11 April 1827 until 1841 (see Lamson's sermon, B2 F5). After a series of pastors, including Edward Ilsley Galvin, the Reverend John W. Hudson, a graduate of Dartmouth College, Class of 1858, and Harvard Divinity School, 1861, became pastor in 1873, and served until 1898, when he was voted Pastor Emeritus.

The First Unitarian Church of Peabody disappears from the Peabody city directories in 1946 under that name but reappears in 1947 as the Park Street Church, a Unitarian-Universalist church. In 1967 it changed its name to the North Shore Unitarian-Universalist Church and moved in 1969 from Peabody to 323 Locust Street in Danvers, Massachusetts, where it remains today.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Galvin, Edward Ilsley, Reverend, 1838-1908
Hudson, John W., Reverend, d. 1925
Sewell, Charles Chauncey, Reverend, 1802-1886
Account books--1890-1918
Account books--Massachusetts--Peabody
Church buildings--Massachusetts--Danvers
Church buildings--Massachusetts--Peabody
Church records and registers
Pews and pew rights
Unitarian churches
Vital statistics
Danvers (Mass.)
Danvers (Mass.)--Statistics, Vital
Peabody (Mass.)
Peabody (Mass.)--Statistics, Vital


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

First Unitarian Church of Peabody Records, MSS 292, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


The record book (B1 F2) and the treasurer's books (B1 F6-7) were loaned to the Essex Institute by the First Unitarian Church of Peabody on 5 March 1953. The promissory note book (B1 F4), the copy of Rev. Sewell's notebook (B2 F2), the 1899 sermon of John W. Hudson (B2 F5), and the 1876 church anniversary program (B2 F7) belonged to the Peabody Historical Society at one time, but it is not known how they came into the collection. The list of 1833 pew assessments (B1 F5, removed from MSS 0.39) was a gift on 20 July 1982. The provenance of the rest of the collection is unknown.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Jalien Hollister, November 1996.

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