Literary, Historic and Personal Archives

Subject areas covered by the manuscript collections include: local history and the records of churches; the training and work of ministers, including sermons; notes of lecturers given in nonconformist academies; and matters of doctrine and liturgy. Evidence for the lives and opinions of those involved include diaries, commonplace books and correspondence. The bulk of manuscripts come from Joshua Wilson and consist not only of his collections of historical material, but also his voluminous correspondence on matters of contemporary concern, from the 1820s to the 1870s. The detailed MS lists of the archives are being transferred to our online catalogue. 

To access the Congregational Library Manuscripts catalogue, click on the link below

Congregational Library Manuscripts Catalogue.

For the Archive of Ministers’ Papers, please click on the link below

Archive of Ministers’ papers

War and peace in the Congregational Library

In 2014, The Library had a small “war and peace” exhibition. Until our entire catalogue is digitised, searches by topic are difficult. Consequently, exhibits from centuries earlier than the twentieth are a random and meagre selection of what is undoubtedly present in the library. The material ranging from the 1890s to the 1960s (archive material, printed books, and especially pamphlets) gives a better representation of the library’s holdings, and offers vivid, if still fitful, glimpses of the period. Most of the printed material is not specifically the work of Congregational writers, but nevertheless shows something of the channels through which Congregationalists formed their views of current affairs, before making their own contributions, both theoretical and practical.The following is a link to the notes which were prepared to accompany the 2014 exhibition and which may help to direct readers to relevant material.

War and Peace in the Congregational Library

The Peace Society was founded in 1816. By its early Victorian heyday, its leading members included the Corn-Law agitators Cobden and Bright. It continued to be a strong presence to the end of the century and beyond. The complete ineffectiveness of the Peace Society at the time of the First World War led to its diminution and eventual incorporation with the International Christian Peace Fellowship under the name of the International Peace Society. But its work was carried on by a variety of other bodies.

[N.B. the issue of Le Mouvement Pacifiste for Janvier/Juin 1920 “gives in detail the circumstances in which, and by which, the League of Nations came into existence in Lucerne in May 1920”. See typed note added 6 Nov 1969]

Missionaries often bore important witness to the horrors of war, but also, like others engaged in evangelism, had a weakness for exploiting the glamour of war-vocabulary.