Until 1831, the Congregational/Independent churches had no central organization, though a number of county unions had been formed. In that year the Congregational Union of England and Wales was founded, remaining in existence until its constituent churches formed themselves into the Congregational Church in England and Wales in 1966. At this point a number of churches broke away to form the Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches. In 1972 the CCEW united with the Presbyterian Church in England and Wales to form the United Reformed Church. Those churches who preferred to continue in the Congregational tradition then formed themselves into the Congregational Federation, and a small number of other churches remained unaffiliated to any of the new groupings.
Archives held by the Library include the records of the Congregational Memorial Hall Trust (which owns the Congregational Library), 1862 onwards, together with those of the Congregational Union/Congregational Church, 1831-1972, and some (but not yet all) of its successors, 1972 onwards: namely the United Reformed Church, and the Unaffiliated Congregational Churches Charities. The Archives do not normally include the church books or registers of individual churches, nor the records of most of the county unions. The main exceptions are the Kent Union Society, 1802-1931, and a handful of London churches. The Archives mainly consist of the minute books of the various committees which operated as part of the Congregational Union and later bodies, both permanent standing committees and temporary ones designed to deal with particular problems or crises. A brief handlist of the Archives may be consulted. Access to those parts of the Archives which are of a personal nature is restricted, as is access to the Memorial Hall Archives, which may only be inspected by permission of the Trustees of the Congregational Memorial Hall Trust.
To access the Congregational Library Archive catalogues click on the links below.