First Baptist Church (Albany, N.Y.)
Records, 1814-1976; bulk, 1853-1974

SC23339

Quantity: 3 boxes; 4 extra-large items (1.0 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Gift; American Baptist Churches of New York State, June 2015
Processed By: Regina Berry, Student Assistant, State University of New York at Albany, June 2015

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Historical Note:

Despite a handwritten notation in one of the volumes in this collection that the First Baptist Church of Albany was incorporated March 29, 1803, it seems likely that the report from the Bi-centennial History of Albany: History of the County of Albany, Volume 2, by George Rogers Howell and Jonathan Tenney, published in 1886, is more accurate:

"The first meeting of Baptists in the City of Albany was held January 1, 1810, when the following men and women met and formed themselves into a society, viz.: Joshua A. Burk, Salem Dutcher, John Gray, William Penrey, Charles Boyington, Tamer Page, Betsey Burke, Catherine Gordon, Margaret Jones, Elenor Penrey. This society voted, on the 23rd day of January, 1811, to organize a church, which they did, and started with twenty-one members. The church thus formed met in various places until 1818, when they purchased and remodeled what was then known as the Green Street Theatre. It was dedicated and occupied by them for the first time January 1, 1819. In the year 1852, the lot corner of Hudson Avenue and Philip Street was purchased, and the present edifice was erected at a cost of about $26,000. In 1865 it was greatly improved, and will seat about 950. There is a Sunday-school connected with it, and the Madison Avenue Mission is under its care. Pastor, Rev. Smith T. Ford. Membership, 487."  This article continues with a complete list of pastors from Francis Wayland (1811-1812) to Smith T. Ford (1884).

In 1834, the popular Rev. Bartholomew T. Welch, pastor since 1827, led 120 members from First Baptist to form a new society called the Pearl Street Baptist Church. He remained its pastor until 1848. This church was later renamed Emmanuel Baptist Church.

From 1903 to 1911, Rev. Creighton R. Storey was pastor of First Baptist Church. Born in Ireland, educated at Colgate College and Hamilton Theological School, he became a controversial figure in the church due to his attention to social causes and ministry to church "outsiders." After he resigned in 1911, he became associated with Bishop William Croswell Doane and several Episcopal congregations.

There is a photograph of the First Baptist Church Meeting House, built in 1857 (referred to in the Howell/Tenney quote above), at Hudson Avenue and Philip Street in Old Albany: A Pictorial History of the City of Albany, Volume 1, by Morris Gerber (Editor), 1961, p. 70.  The photograph caption also states that "the congregation moved in 1914 to Delaware Avenue as business encroached on their old site." The Hudson Avenue and Philip Street building has been demolished. The new church, built around 1914, at 431-433 Delaware Avenue, remained in use until the dissolution of First Baptist Church in 1974. The final service was held on November 17, 1974. This church building still exists as a private, single family home known locally as "The 7th Ward House."

Scope and Content Note:

The records have little information from the early years of the church, with the exception of the 1814 bond between the First Baptist Society and the City of Albany (See EL 1), but they do contain significant material from the middle and later years. Incomplete financial records (1853-1932) are a good source for names of members. Church record and minute books (1921-1976) detail the activities of church leaders and the various groups within the church, as well as provide names of church officials and members. The record book (1921-1949 – Box 2, Volume 1) contains a complete list of pastors of First Baptist Church from 1811 to 1941, along with their dates of service.

Included are two sets of blueprints of the church building at 431-433 Delaware Avenue. One set appears to be the original blueprints from ca. 1914, and the other is for an addition made in 1926. Both sets were created by Fuller and Robinson Company, the architectural firm hired to oversee the design and construction of the building (See EL 2-4).

Meeting minutes from 1974 detail the decisions that led to the closing of the church in November of that year (Box 3, Folder 9).

Additional records of the church are held by the American Baptist Historical Society in Atlanta, Georgia. A copy of the inventory for those records is available in the accession file.  See: http://abhsarchives.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Original_Church_Records_list_2015.pdfexternal link

Container List:

Part I: Bound Volumes

Box Volume Description
    Financial Record Books, 1853-1932
1 1 Annual report of the treasurer, March 2, 1853-April 16, 1926 (ca. 200 p.; 27 cm.)
1 2 Account book of the Poor Fund of the First Baptist Church, July 5, 1851-June 8, 1920 (145 p.; 26 cm.)
1 3 Bank passbook from the Albany Trust Co., December 12, 1905-November 23, 1908
1 4 The "D. E." Perfection Record, an alphabetical list of members' contributions by week, January 7, 1917-December 28, 1924 (100 p.; 35 cm.)
1 5 The "D. E." Perfection Record, an alphabetical list of members' contributions by week, January 24, 1925-January 31, 1932 (100 p.; 40 cm.)
1 6 The "D. E." Perfection Record, an alphabetical list of members contributions by week, to the Benevolence Fund, January 4, 1920- January 31, 1932
(100 p.; 40 cm.)
    Church Records and Minute Books, 1921-1976
2 1 Church Records and Minutes, 1921-1949 (ca. 400 p.; 35 cm.)
  1. Annual summaries of membership totals, 1810-1921 (tipped in)
  2. Annual summaries of membership, May 31, 1921-May 1, 1944
  3. Official Register: Pastors, Clerks, Treasurers, Superintendents, Deacons, Deaconesses, and Trustees, 1811-1949
  4. Alphabetical and chronological register of members
  5. Annual statistics, 1926-1944
  6. Minutes, June 8, 1926-February 9, 1944
  7. Notations of marriages and deaths and newspaper clippings of member obituaries, 1926-1945
2 2 Church Records, 1941-1976 (ca. 400 p.; 35 cm.)
  1. Annual summary of membership, May 1, 1944-May 1971
  2. Official Register: Pastors, Clerks, Treasurers, Superintendents, Deacons, Deaconesses, and Trustees, 1941-1976
  3. Alphabetical and chronological register of members
  4. Minutes, May 10,1944-February 8, 1967

Part II: Records and Correspondence

Box Folder Description
    Church Records and Papers, 1887-1976
3 1 "Sermon on Baptism," by Rev H[enry] M[elville] King, (Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Albany, N.Y.), 1887
3 2 Treasurer's records and reports, 1905-1910, 1932 (28 items)
3 3 Notices of church meetings and a request for pastor support, 1909, 1916, 1918 (5 items)
3 4 Newspaper clippings of church news and obituaries, 1909-1930, n.d.
(13 items)
3 5 Receipts for missionary contributions, 1920-1926 (ca. 50 items)
3 6 Endowment of William Ira and Angie Randall Baker, 1922 (2 items)
3 7 Bids for alterations to First Baptist Church, [ca. 1926 ?] (1 item)
3 8 Expense and contribution receipts, 1933-1941 (ca. 50 items)
3 9 Minutes and treasurer’s reports, 1967-1974 (ca. 50 pages)
3 10 Survey map of the lands of First Baptist Church, 1971 (1 item)
3 11 Letter of transfer from Edythe M. and Marion P. Malcolm to Third Reformed Church, Albany, 1976 (2 items)
3 12 Miscellaneous (4 items):
  1. Flyer from "The Industrial Brotherhood" by Rev. Creighton R. Storey, General Superintendent, n.d.
  2. Thank-you notes from the families of Miss Cora Woodard, 1938, and Mrs. Drake, n.d.
  3. Address stamp for First Baptist Church, n.d.
    Folio-size Documents, 1814-1926
EL 1 Bond for $1,500 from the Mayor, Alderman and Commonalty of the City of Albany to the Trustees of the First Baptist Society of the City of Albany, 1814
EL 2 Blueprints of First Baptist Church, Fuller and Robinson Company, Architects, n.d. (8 pages)
EL 3 Blueprints of Alteration and Addition to First Baptist Church, Fuller and Robinson Company, Architects, July 1926 (10 pages)
EL 4 Survey Map of Property of First Baptist Church, August 6, 1926 (2 copies)
Last Updated: August 23, 2016