Parish Historians Society

The Parish Historians Society was established by canon at the 1935 Diocesan Convention (Canon 3, Sec. 4, Para. 6 & 7).  The vision of such an organization was first described in 1884 by then registrar, the Rev. Dr. Edmund S. Slafter.  It was the first of its kind in the Episcopal Church.

The aim of the society is to encourage the preservation and recording of the past and current history of the individual parishes and missions.

The society encourages the participation of its members in special projects that advance the preservation and celebration of the heritage of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Massachusetts.

In each parish in the diocese the rector (or in case of vacancy or absence, the wardens) appoints a member in good standing in the parish as parish historian, who sees to it that the records of the parish are preserved.  The historian and assistants or other members in good standing in the parish who express a commitment to the work and aims of the society are eligible for membership.  Up to two active members of the society from each parish, ordinarily the parish historian and one assistant, may vote at the Annual Meeting.

Duties and Responsibilities
The parish historian and assistants research and record the past and present history of the parish or mission with which they are affiliated and record the events, developments, statistics and other contemporary data that give evidence of the changing life of the congregation as it exists in the larger community.  Members collect, describe and conserve the documentary and pictorial archives of their parish or mission and encourage the preservation and recording of the artistic elements of worship and liturgy including church architecture, sculpture, ceremonial legal instruments, relevant printed and published materials and other valuable and historical appointments.

Annual Meeting
The society holds a meeting of the general membership each spring.  This is the principal event at which parish historians, archivists and interested friends gather to exchange useful information, ideas and fellowship.  The annual meetings are held in various parishes throughout the diocese.  Speakers, luncheon and a tour of the host parish traditionally accompany the business meeting.

Officers and Committees
The registrar-historiographer serves as the convener of the society, and presides at the society’s annual and special meetings.

The society has three officers:  the convener, president and clerk.  The Executive Committee, which meets bimonthly, is comprised of the three officers and from six to eight additional members.  It is responsible for conducting the business of the society between regular meetings of the general membership.  The Executive Committee appoints other committees as needed to promote the aims of the society.

Special Projects
The society periodically undertakes diocesanwide projects to promote a particular understanding of the diocese.  Current projects include a survey of stained glass and organs in diocesan churches, plus a new survey of cemeteries, ash fields, columbaria and similar sites and facilities. 

Contact Information
Parish Historians Society
Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
138 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02111

For Archive Emergencies
In the event of a disaster involving parish records, or for technical questions, call the Diocesan Library and Archives at 617-482-4826, ext. 504.