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Guide to the New York Society of the New Church Records
1852-2003
 MS 3210

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Lia Warner

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 18, 2022
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: New York Society of the New Church
Title: New York Society of the New Church records
Dates [inclusive]: 1852-2003
Abstract: The New York Society of the New Church Records document the organizational structure and activities of the Swedenborgian congregation primarily located on 35th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. The documents include minutes, reports, correspondence, and printed matter regarding the functions and administration of the Society. These records reveal the ongoing evolution and struggle of the Society and the 35th Street building to endure economic and societal challenges.
Quantity: 7 Linear feet in 5 record cartons and 1 oversized box.
Location: Materials in this collection are stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Language: The documents in the collection are in English.
Call Phrase: MS 3210

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Biographical / Historical

The New York Society of the New Church was a Swedenborgian denomination, based on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). Swedenborg was a scientist who experienced a spiritual awakening that moved him to develop theological and philosophical texts on the nature of the afterlife, the trinity, and the Second Coming of Christ. Ultimately, his ideas inspired other Christians who sought to reform and reinterpret Christianity, and he is credited with the ensuing theological developments as his texts were revelatory turning points, though Swedenborg himself never attempted to establish a church. Swedenborgism, or the New Church, was founded in 1787, after Swedenborg's death. Swedenborg is said to have influenced other writers, philosophers, and cultural figures such as Robert Frost, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and King Carl XIII of Sweden.

According to the New York Society of the New Church's Historical Sketch (1860; in Box 1, Folder 8), the Society was founded in 1816 by Edward Riley, with the help of James Chesterman and Samuel Woodworth. This group of religious organizers was informally active as early as 1812. Earlier locations of the Society include buildings on Pearl Street and 11th Street, but the archival records were created from and document the Society's primary location on 35th Street. The 35th Street location was deeded to the Society in 1854 and construction of the present-day church building began in 1858. The Society, which also is known as the Society of the New Jerusalem and the New York Association of the New Church, occupied the 35th Street location until it ultimately stopped holding services in 2020 due to declining membership, financial struggles, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The church structure remains, though it is unclear whether, as of 2022, it is currently inhabited or maintained by the Society.

A series of construction and maintenance issues exacerbated the financial decline of the church in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The Society is described to have been gifted three original lots by James Chesterman in 1854; however, two of these lots were sold by the Board of Trustees when the church was in financial crisis (circa 1990).

The New York Society of the New Church was part of a larger network of regional and national Swedenborgian sects. The archival material reflects ties to New Church societies in Brooklyn, northern New Jersey, and Boston.

Notable clergy who supported the New York New Church include Chauncey Giles (1813-1893), a prolific writer and editor of the New Jerusalem Messenger, also known as the  New Church Messenger. For later editions of the  New Church Messenger, see Box 3 Folder 12.

The Society was organized by the Board of Trustees and multiple permanent committees and was governed by a constitution and bylaws. The committees included the Church Committee, Ladies Aid Society, Sunday School Committee, Organ Committee, Advertising Committee, and the Flower Committee, amongst other temporary committees. Administrative positions included the Pastor, Treasurer, and Secretary. The overall structure of the Society, and subsequently its documentary record, remains highly consistent from the 19th to 20th century, though this collection does have gaps in that record.

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Scope and Contents

This collection contains printed materials relating to the Society's function and evolution. The records are in two main time periods and distinct formats: 19th century handwritten records that were folded and bundled according to topic (1852-1917) and 20th century records that were typewritten and stored in labeled folders (1954-2003). There are also several oversized ledgers and scrapbooks (1941-1999).

The day-to-day workings of the church administrators are documented in meeting minutes, periodic reports, and financial records such as invoices and receipts. Minutes include those of the Board of Trustees and the various church committees. There are also foundational documents such as the Society's constitution, bylaws, amendments, trustee election certifications, membership rolls, pledge cards, contracts and real estate documents, ledgers, and weekly "Manuals" that served as service materials for in-person worship. Correspondence around key issues such as the valuation and sale of church property, and resignation or appointment of a pastor, or the establishment of a new committee also appear. The collection also includes ephemera such as broadsides, bulletins, and mailers. Clippings, ephemera, and photographs are contained in scrapbooks.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in rough chronological order, with 19th century records preceding 20th century and a few 21st century records. Within each of those broad time periods the material is presented in the finding aid arranged generally by subject. The physical arrangement does not follow that presentation. The disordered 19th and early 20th century documents were unfolded and foldered and the physical sequence follows the sequence of that work. The later 20th century documents remain in their original folders and sequence as delivered to N-YHS.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Giles, Chauncey, 1813-1893
  • Swedenborg, Emanuel, 1688-1772

Document Type

  • Account books.
  • Church records.
  • Ledgers (account books)
  • Minutes (administrative records)
  • Reports.
  • Scrapbooks.

Subject Organizations

  • General Convention of the New Jerusalem in the United States of America

Subject Topics

  • Church buildings -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Church buildings -- New York (State) -- New York -- Photographs.
  • Church finance -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Churches -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • New Jerusalem Church.
  • Religious facilities -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Religious institutions -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Swedenborgians.

Subject Places

  • Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)
  • Midtown Manhattan (New York, N.Y.) -- Buildings, structures, etc. -- Photographs
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Church history.
  • New York (State) -- Religious life and customs -- 19th century.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.

Use Restrictions

Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff. Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, rightsandrepro@nyhistory.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions

Preferred Citation

The collection should be cited as: New York Society of the New Church Records, MS 3210, New-York Historical Society.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The materials in this collection were donated to the New-York Historical Society by Christopher Bonanos in 2022. Bonanos had retrieved the discarded records from outside the New York Society of the New Church's building on 35th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. Bonanos described the circumstances on the website Curbed

Processing Information

The collection was processed by New York University archival intern Lia Warner in 2022.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 8 Historical Sketch of the New York New Church Society (monograph)
1860
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 16 Constitution and Bylaws, Amendments of NYSNC and Brooklyn Society
1865-1879
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 31 Church Committee Reports
1852-1888
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 47-48 Church Committee and Finance Records (2 folders)
1875-1879
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 49 President and Church Committee Report
1882
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 7 Reports of the Book/Library Committee
1852
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 25 Organ Committee Working Papers

Scope and Contents

Among other items, this folder includes a church floorplan showing numbered pews.

1870-1894
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 27 Advertising Committee Reports
1876-1881
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 32 Committee on New Pastor
circa 1890s
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 28 Miscellaneous Committee Reports
1839-1900
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 35 All Committee Reports for Year 1883 (into 1884)
1883-1884
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 36 All Committee Reports for Year 1884
1884
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 37 All Committee Reports for Years 1885-1886
1885-1886
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 38 All Committee Reports, Working Papers for Year 1887
1881-1887
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 1 Ladies Aid Society Annual Reports
1886-1887, 1907
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 45 Reports of the Board of Trustees
1880-1884
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 29 Pastor's Reports
1875-1888
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 30 Secretary's Reports
1881-1888
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 11 Sunday School Reports and Catalogue
1852-1882
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 13 Annual Meeting of the NY Society of the New Church. Bulletins
1881-1884
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 46 1907 Annual Meeting Portfolio
1907
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 39 Annual Reports Submitted at the Annual Meeting Held March 10, 1910
1910
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 40 Annual Reports Submitted at the Annual Meeting Held January 1911
1910
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 41 Annual Reports Submitted at the Annual Meeting Held January 1912
1911
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 42 Annual Reports Submitted at the Annual Meeting Held January 1915
1914
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 43 Annual Reports Submitted at the Annual Meeting Held January 1917
1916
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 44 Annual Reports Submitted at the Annual Meeting Held February 1918
1917
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 4 NYSNC Manual (bound compilation)
1885 November-1889 December
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 5 Order of Services and Manual
1883-1896
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 6 NYSNC Printed Matter and Announcements
1877-1898
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 3 Yearbook: New York Society of the New Church
1892
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 17 Membership Lists
1886-1899
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 9 Pledge Cards from Church Members
1897
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 26 Treasurer Reports
1874-1907
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 15 Financial Reports and Receipts
1897-1898
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 18 Receipts and Bills Paid in Year 1869-1870
1869-1870
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 20 Expenditures and Contributions
1875-1899
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 19 Miscellaneous Receipts and Invoices
1885-1915
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 12 Cancelled/Cashed Checks
1902
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 10 Certificates of Elections of Trustees
1883, 1888
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 23 Pastor Letters to the Society

Scope and Contents

Resignation letter of Abiel Silver and acceptance of Pastor position by Chauncey Giles

1863-1864
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 21 Letters and Miscellaneous Papers for Years 1874-1875
1874-1875
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 22 Letters to John B. McGeorge re: donations and membership
1873-1899
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 14 Property Sale Offer

Scope and Contents

Offer to purchase the 35th street property, with related documents.

1893
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 24 Letter to the Board of Trustees from Thomas M. Dillingham Re: Church Property
1899
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 2 Documents to Walter B. Safford Re: Sale of Church Properties and Finances
1907
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 33 Boston Society of the New Jerusalem Manual
1897
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 34 Envelopes and Letterhead
undated
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 1 Scrapbook "Volume III"
1930-1932
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 1 Scrapbook "No. 2"
1937-1938
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 2 Scrapbook "No. 3"
1937-1938
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 12 Minutes: Annual and Quarterly
1954-1964
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 13 Minutes: Annual and Quarterly
1971-1973
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 16 Minutes
1979-1981
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 14 Minutes: Annual and Quarterly
1965-1967
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 15 Minutes: Annual and Quarterly
1968-1970
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 40-41 Trustee Minutes (2 folders)
1961-1980
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 50 Trustee Minutes
1971-1986
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 47 Trustee Minutes
1986-1987
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 45-46, 49 Trustee Minutes (3 folders)
1987-1988
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 48 Board of Trustees Correspondence - 1989 to Present
1989-1991
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 44 NYSNC Board of Directors Minutes
1993 September-1994 June
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 43 NYSNC Board of Directors Minutes
1994 September-1995 June
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 7 NYSNC Board of Directors Minutes
1997 July 1-1998 June 30
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 5 NYSNC Board of Directors Minutes
1999-2000
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 6 NYSNC Board of Directors Minutes
1999 July 1-2000 June 30
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 10 NYSNC Board of Directors Minutes
2000-2001
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 9 NYSNC Board of Directors Minutes
2001 July 1-2002 June 30
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 8 NYSNC Board of Directors Minutes
2002-2003
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 11 Church Committee Minutes Extra Copies
1967
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 10 Church Committee Minutes
1969 September-1971 June
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 11 Church Committee Minutes Before 1975
1967-1975
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 39 Church Committee Minutes
1989-1990
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 2 Church Committee Correspondence
1990-1993
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 4 Church Committee Minutes
1991-1992
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 3 Church Committee Minutes
1992 September-1993 June
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 1 General Ledger
1941-1953
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 2 General Ledger
1983-1988
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 3 General Ledger
1990-1991
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 4 General Ledger
1991 July 1-1992 June 30
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 21 General Ledger
1998 July 1-1999 June 30
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 2 Account Book for Members' Weekly Offerings
1956-1966
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 3 Account Book for Members' Weekly Offerings
1966-1981
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 16 Budgets (One Copy)
1987-1988
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 1 Ladies Aid By-laws and Constitution
1955-1971
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 18 Ladies Aid Treasurer's Report
1972-1975
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 8 Ladies Aid: Paid Bills
1977-1985
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 51 Ladies Aid Treasurer Reports
1984-1986
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 20 Pastor's Emergency Fund - Inactive Since 1976
1964-1975
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 17 Church Bulletins
1954-1955
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 4-5 Church Bulletins (2 folders)
1956-1958
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 15 Church Bulletins
1984 September-1985 June
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 14 Church Bulletins
1985 September-1986 June
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 6 New York Association of the New Church Bylaws
1954
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 38 NYSNC Bylaws
1957
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 2 Research Committee Letters, Program, and Suggestions
1957-1959
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 13 Research Committee Program
1958
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 35 Project Link
1955-1974
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 21 Prayer Fellowship (Material Mimeo'd For Mrs. D. Mack)
1958
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 31 Group Dynamics Course
1961 February
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 36 Questing Committee Report
1962-1963
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 19 Out of Touch Project
1963
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 12 New Church Messenger
1963-1971
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 33 Organ Committee (Ad Hoc)
1965-1966
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 9 Summer Program - Children - East Midtown
1965
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 52 Houseparty
1968-1969
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 23 Pamphlet - For Those In Sorrow
1969
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 24 Church Women United
1969-1974
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 25-27 Concert Series (3 folders)
1970-1974
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 42 Advertising
1970-1979
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 1 Book Inventory
1975-1979
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 34 General Information for Clergy
1983-1984
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 37 Swedenborgian Publishing Association (Defunct as of 1985)
1954-1983
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 30 General Convention of the New Jerusalem of the USA
1954-1970
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 29 General Church - N.Y. Circle
1960-1967
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 32 N.Y. 1971 Committee For Convention
1960-1966
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 22 President's Address British Congregation
undated
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 28 Constitutions (other than New York)
undated
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 18 Church of the Neighbor (Brooklyn) Photographs
circa 1950s
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 19 Church of the Neighbor Photograph Box

Scope and Contents

This box held the photographs now in folder 18

circa 1950s
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 7 Suffolk County Council of Churches
1959-1960
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 20 The New World Order; an interpretation of the world situation--social, political, economic, religious, by Charles Thomas Carpenter (Monograph)
1944
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 3 Empty Labeled Folders
undated, 1990-1999
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 17 Fragments
undated

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