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First Presbyterian Church of Rockford



Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Historical and Administrative Records

Membership Information

Financial Records

Church Groups and Committees


Oversize Drawer 29

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First Presbyterian Church of Rockford, 1854-2010 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: First Presbyterian Church of Rockford, 1854-2010

Predominant Dates:1854-2010

ID: RHC/RC/325

Extent: 18.75 Linear Feet. More info below.

Date Acquired: 09/17/2012

Subjects: First Presbyterian Church of Rockford, Rockford (Ill.)


The First Presbyterian Church of Rockford Records contain five series of records:  (l) Historical and Administrative Records, (2) Membership Information, (3) Financial Records, (4) Church Groups and Committees, (5) Audio-Visual.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The first series contains historical and administrative records. The first series consists of four subseries:  historical records, annual reports, board of trustees minutes and records and administration records. These include the history of the church from its founding in Rockford in 1854 and as well as correspondence. This section also contains other land and property deeds and ministerial records dating from the late 1800s, annual reports (1919-2010), session meeting reports (including late 1800s), by-laws, and additional administrative correspondence until 2010. Also included in this series are the church deeds of 1951 and 1954, deed and land titles of 1904 and 1954, hymn books (1917), and centennial church records (1854-1962). The second series, Membership Information, consists of three subseries:  records of church members and membership cards, bulletins and newsletters, and church-members correspondence. This series includes records relating to church members, membership cards, church bulletins and directories, church-member correspondence, member lists, reception and dismissals, bulletins and directories, church handbooks and baptism records from early 20th century. There are also memorial records of church members and eulogies (1961-1996). In one “Baptism” book, there is a list of Presbyterian members that were on the “Khaki Roll” from WWI. There is also a list of church members WWII roll call.

The third series consists of financial records, treasury reports, and communicant rolls. These include General Fund information pertaining to how money was collected and raised and specifically how the funds were dispersed, (1971-2011). There are records on the church building and fund from 1922-2006, treasurer’s reports (1877-1883), financial statements and reports(1942-2005), expenses and balances records (1941-1971), annual congregation and meeting reports (1933-1963) and stewardship records (1957-1994).  The fourth series, Church Groups and Committees, consists of three subseries; financial reports, church groups and committees and programs.  This series is the bulk of the collection. First Presbyterian Church was comprised of dozens of church organization committees. These include the audit, property, renovations, Eudokian, Thistle bookshop, witness and outreach, youth, worship, Christian education, Evangelism, missions, music, finance and stewardship, and women’s ministry committees.  The Church records contain information on how the different groups, organizations and committees within the Church raised funds and donated their time and money to those less fortunate both here and abroad. The Deaconess Committee was a women’s group that visited the sick and elderly, boosted their morale and assisted with their needs. The Eudokians were a young women’s group that existed for several decades beginning in the 1920s. They were involved in many church-related programs and charitable events. The Missions committee involved an overview of the Church’s purposes as well as mission trips. This series also contains information relating to various Church programs and the church scrapbooks.

The fifth series, Audio-visual, consist of seven subseries; photographs, slides, cassette tapes, films, phonograph records/reel to reel sound recordings, church artifacts, and oversize records. This series contains photographs and slides of the interior and exterior of the church, church members, youth groups, church mission trips, church celebrations and other church activities. Of particular interest is a film that features the exterior of First Presbyterian Church and surrounding area taken in the 1920s by the Eudokian Committee.  Also contained in this series are sermons on cassette tape and church artifacts.

Collection Historical Note

Several names in Rockford’s local history are mentioned in the collection and may be useful to researchers doing local history. Because Rockford began as a manufacturing center, businessmen were able to contribute to the growing community, including the Church. First Presbyterian was built on land originally owned by George Haskell, who acquired the land patent from the United States of America in 1842. This original land patent as well as subsequent land acquisitions and divisions is in the collection. In addition, the collection has information regarding prominent local figures involved in the original church formation. The First Presbyterian Church was formed in Rockford, Illinois in 1854. The first permanent building they used for church purposes was called “The Little Brown Church,” a simple rectangular building that was used until a more permanent structure was built. A fund was created in 1862 for the building of the new structure located on West State Street in Rockford, Illinois. When that church was outgrown, a new larger church was dedicated and opened in 1908 in a different location at the NW corner of North Main Street and Park Avenue, where it stands today.

The Church contains a large pipe organ that was an integral part of the church for many years. A special committee was formed for the funding of and building preparation for this organ.  Church meeting minutes make reference to the locating, funding and arrival of this organ. As the Church aged, additions and updates were desired and a capital campaign was begun in 1993 to raise the necessary funds. Due to declining membership and rising costs, the First Presbyterian Church of Rockford joined with another church, The Second Congregational UCC in 2011. Although the congregation continues to gather at their new home in Rockford, church leaders felt the need to archive the collection from First Presbyterian in order to maintain its individual and original histories.

Subject/Index Terms

First Presbyterian Church of Rockford
Rockford (Ill.)

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Alternate Extent Statement: 245 digital file (141 MB)

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Use Restrictions: Property rights belong to the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.

Technical Access Note: Electronic records may be accessed on the computer in the Center’s reading room.

Acquisition Source: Rev. Beth Wagner

Acquisition Method: Rev. Beth Wagner, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Rockford, donated the church records in three parts to the Northern Illinois Regional History Center between September and December 2012.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Historical and Administrative Records],
[Series II: Membership Information],
[Series III: Financial Records],
[Series IV: Church Groups and Committees],
[Series V: Audio-Visual],
[Oversize Drawer 29],

Series II: Membership Information
Sub-Series A: Church Members
Box 7
Folder 1-4: Certificate of Dismission and Reception, January 1933-October 1940, October 1940-December 1945, September 1947-April
Folder 5-7: Notice of Dismissal, October 1910-June 1917, January 1926-December 1932, September 1953-January
Box 8
Folder 1-7: Directories, 1854-1969, 1982-1986, 1988-1999, 1998-2010
Box 9
Folder 1: Directories, 1987-2006
Folder 2: Membership, 1854-1971
Folder 3: Active Members List, 1904-1911
Folder 4: Financial and Marriage Records, 1917-1924
Folder 5: Baptismal Records, 1926-1927
Folder 6: Baptism of Infants and Adults, 1922-1926
Folder 7: Baptisms, 1915-1928
Folder 8-9: Congregational Meeting, 1870-1892, 1984-1991
Box 10: Membership Cards
Sub-Series B: Bulletins and Newsletters
Box 11
Folder 1-31: Bulletins, 1883-1947, 1954-1956, 1960-1968, 1972, 1978-1979, 1982-1993, 1997-2004
Box 12
Folder 1-13: Bulletins, 1980-1985, January 2005-December 2010
Folder 14-31: The Newsletter/The First Word, 1935-1967, 1972, 1977, 1979, 1992-1993, 1997-2011
Folder 32: Yearbooks, 1992-2003
Folder 33: The Kids Word, 1987-1989
Sub-Series C: Members and Church Correspondence
Box 13
Folder 1: Members Letters, 1949
Folder 2: Various Correspondence, 1965-1974
Folder 3: Property Documents, 1974
Folder 4-5: Clerk of the Session Correspondence, 1976-1978
Folder 6: Letters to Members, December 2000-February 2002
Folder 7: Mailing List, 1991
Folder 8: Attendance, 1987-1990
Folder 9: Senior Citizens, 1992-1993
Folder 10: Membership, 1999
Folder 11: Surveys, 1997
Folder 12: Church Growth Survey, 1991
Folder 13: Demographics, 1991
Folder 14: Zone List and Elders List, no date
Folder 15: Membership Rolls, 1956, 1958
Folder 16: List of Suspended Members, 1959
Folder 17: Letter of Transfer Pending, 1961-1962
Folder 18: Trustees, 1968-1970
Folder 19: Transfer, Reception, 1974
Folder 20: Colleges and List of Students, 1969-1972
Folder 21: Terminated File, Inactive and Suspended Members, 1958 - 1971
Folder 22-28: Membership Zone List, 1963, 1968-1972, 1974
Folder 29-34: Membership Information Form, 1994
Box 14
Folder 1: Membership Information Form, 1994
Folder 2: Church Informational Booklets, 1906-1992
Folder 3: Church Handbook, 1883, 1967, 1987
Folder 4: Church Booklet, 1986, 1987
Folder 5: Handbooks and Yearbooks, 1979-2006
Folder 6: Booklets, no date
Folder 7: Sunday School Rosters, 1992-1993
Folder 8: Memorials, 1968-1996
Folder 9: Memorials, 1964-1968
Folder 10: Tributes, Eulogies, 1961-1974
Folder 11: Funeral Requests, 1967-1993
Folder 12: Funeral Melody Requests, 1968
Box 15
Folder 1: Funeral Services, 1973-1993
Folder 2: Memorials, 1955-1981
Folder 3: Obituaries, no date

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Historical and Administrative Records],
[Series II: Membership Information],
[Series III: Financial Records],
[Series IV: Church Groups and Committees],
[Series V: Audio-Visual],
[Oversize Drawer 29],

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