The editors wish to thank a number of individuals and institutions that made possible the publication of this volume. First, we wish to thank Jane Wilkins, Herbert Leafquist, and Alma Leafquist of the First Parish Congregational Church of Wakefield, for their friendliness and their assistance in locating and duplicating the long lost church record book. We also wish to thank the staff of the Reading Public Library for providing the Works Projects Administration’s typescript of the volume. Thanks are also owed to the staff of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which provided us with access to the Rumney Marsh records, and assisted us in microfilming them. The New England Historic Genealogical Society of Boston provided a useful nineteenth-century handwritten transcription of the Rumney Marsh records; in particular we wish to thank Timothy G. X. Salls. Financial assistance for this project was provided by the Center for Religion and American Life at Yale University and the Department of History at Oklahoma State University. Brian Harrison and Joel Halcomb assisted in entering and proofreading the transcribed text; the latter benefited from a research scholarship endowed by Thomas Steele. Harold Field Worthley and Harry S. Stout provided valuable comments on drafts of the introduction. Finally, we would like to acknowledge John Tyler of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, who sheparded us through the publication procedure with his usual aplomb, from initial proposal of the idea to final production.
This volume is dedicated to Harold Field Worthley, who served as Librarian and Executive Director of the Congregational Library in Boston and its parent American Congregational Association from 1977 until his retirement in 2004. All scholars interested in colonial Massachusetts church records and in Congregational history are indebted to Dr. Worthley, not only for his 27 years of service at the Congregational Library, but for the three years of effort and 28,000 miles of travel (all within Massachusetts, and mainly at his own expense) that he devoted during the 1960s to hunting down and inventorying the hundreds of local church manuscripts that, for the most part, still remain scattered throughout the state. But for these Herculean efforts and the now-famous 716-page “Worthley Inventory” of early Congregational church records that emerged from them, our project, and many others, would have been impossible.