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Plymouth Congregational Church of Lawrence, Kansas records

Call Number: RH MS 181


This collection contains the records of the Plymouth Congregational Church of Lawrence, Kansas, dating from its founding in the 1850s to the present day. The collection includes a wide variety of administrative documentation, including committee and organizational meeting minutes, orders of service, financial records, membership information, photographs, building specifications and architectural drawings, mortgage and property information, correspondence, and other related materials.


  • Creation: 1854 - 2010


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Administrative History of Plymouth Congregational Church

In September of 1854, Reverend S.Y. Lum was directed by the American Home Missionary Society, New York, to carry the message of the Congregationalists to Lawrence, Kansas. The Emigrant Aid Company, instrumental in settling the town of Lawrence, had erected a mud brick boarding house, which came to be known as the "haytent," where the first church service was held on October 1, 1854.

During the next two years no organized services were held, but members met in private quarters. A church building was completed by 1862 with funds from the East coast and from some 70 church members. The building was located at Pinckney (6th Street) and Louisiana. By the late 1860s, church membership had outgrown the building and plans were made for a new building to be located closer to the Lawrence business district at 9th and Vermont. This building was dedicated in May 1870 and still stands.

In 1916 the church built a Parish House, directly adjacent to the main building. This addition provided space for various church social activities, Sunday School, meetings, and other activities. In 1955 the Parish House was destroyed by fire, but was replaced by 1957 with a Fellowship Hall.

After Reverend Lum came Dr. Richard Cordley in 1857, who continued as minister until 1875 when he was replaced by Rev. L.W. Spring. Rev. George H. Scott replaced Spring, and Dr. Cordley returned in 1884 to minister until his death in 1904. A succession of ministers have followed since: Rev. W.W. Bolt, 1904-1910; Rev. N.S. Elderkin, 1910-1917; Dr. Ross W. Sanderson, 1917-1920; Rev. Ray A. Eusden, 1920-1926; Rev. A.D. Grey, 1926-1932; Rev. Joseph F. King, 1933-1942; Rev. C. Fosberg Hughes, 1942-1948; Rev. Dale E. Turner, 1948-1958; Paul R. Davis, 1958-1965; Dr. Edward Felible, 1965-1972; Homer D. Henderson, who started in 1972; and Rev. Dr. Peter Luckey, who became senior pastor in 1995. In 2019 Rev. Dr. Valerie Miller-Coleman became the first female senior pastor.

Beginning with the 1900s the work of the church endeavored to meet individual church members' needs, as contrasted with the first 40 years, when the work of the church was devoted to its establishment and continuation. Services of the church have included support for home missions, university student assistance, community assistance, and betterment. Women's groups have always been active in the church, and over the years Plymouth women have raised money for many worthwhile projects, including for the church building's stained glass windows.

The church has maintained close ties with the University of Kansas, and many notable students and faculty have been among its members. Music has played a large part in the history of the church. Plymouth had one of the first organs in Kansas, installed in 1868, which was replaced by the Marvin memorial organ in 1922 and remodeled in 1970.

[Information retrieved from Plymouth Congregational Church's website.]


46.25 Linear Feet (49 boxes + 92 volumes, 2 oversize boxes, 28 oversize folders)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The collection contains the extant archival records of the church since its founding. No records have survived from 1854, except for a brief account of an October 15 meeting and a September 11, 1858 meeting, which have been inserted in an 1874 record book (RH MS D126 v.1), along with a few scattered items of church members. The earliest surviving record is to the Congregational Society beginning November 4, 1863 (RH MS E101 v.1).

Other records generated by a variety of church groups, including the Sunday school, board of trustees, women and students, and other groups are part of the collection, along with annual meeting reports, church correspondence, obituaries of members, photographs, architectural drawings, church publications, and sheet music. Also included is a Bible collection (which contains several early pulpit Bibles) and a hymnal and Book of Common Prayer collection, given to the church by members over the years.

Arrangement of the records is typically chronological; bound records are arranged by size and then chronology. Oversize items have been separated and stored in containers appropriate for their size. Some materials, such as Sunday School records, are organized alphabetically.

Physical Location

RH MS 181

Physical Location

RH MS 1178

Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS D126

Physical Location

RH MS E101

Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS Q26, RH MS Q410

Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location

RH MS 1385

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposits, Plymouth Congregational Church, September 10, 1975; March 1982; September 1983; February 26, 2010; February 8, 2016.

Related Materials

Plymouth Congregational Church Thrift Shop Collection, RH MS P735, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Pilgrim Congregational Church Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS E102, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Plymouth Congregational Church. Woman's Missionary Society. The Plymouth Cook Book: A Collection of Choice and Tried Recipes. [Lawrence, KS]: [Plymouth Congregational Church], [1906]. Available at Spencer Research Library at RH C12362.

Plymouth Congregational Church. Woman's Missionary Society. The Plymouth Cook Book: A Collection of Choice and Tried Recipes. [Lawrence, KS]: [Plymouth Congregational Church], [1911]. Available at Spencer Research Library at RH C3324.

Processing Information

The collection has arrived at Spencer Research Library over an extended period of time; therefore like materials from different eras may appear in multiple locations. Generally processing for the collection has kept materials as they were found at the time of arrival, including sometimes using existing folder titles.

Guide to the Plymouth Congregational Church of Lawrence, Kansas Collection
Plymouth Congregational Church of Lawrence, Kansas records
Finding aid prepared by pg, April 1976.. Finding aid encoded by pb, 2010. Finding aid revised by sfw, April 1983; rar, mwh, 2016; bd, 2017; eje, 2023; mwh, 2023.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Plymouth Congregational Church of Lawrence, Kansas records, Kansas Collection, RH MS 181, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States