First Baptist Church of Chicago Records

Institution: Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614
Phone: (312) 642-4600
Date: 1834-1983
Extent: 13.25 Linear Feet
Finding Aid

Biographical/Historical Note:
First Baptist Church of Chicago was founded on October 12, 1833, by Rev. Allen B. Freeman, and built its first structure in 1836 at Washington and LaSalle streets. The church went through several structures before building at Wabash and Hubbard Court in 1866, a structure that was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The church then moved two more times before settling, in 1919, at its long-term 20th century location at 935 East 50th Street.

Dr. Jitsuo Morikawa, one of the more widely known leaders of First Baptist Church, became pastor in 1943. Dr. Morikawa had recently been released from a U.S. detention camp for people of Japanese ancestry, where he and his wife had spent approximately 18 months during the beginning of World War II. First Baptist was predominantly white when Dr. Morikawa began as pastor, but quickly experienced an influx of Japanese Americans seeking membership. Additionally, the church received its first African American member in 1950, largely due to the efforts of Mary Marx, an active member of the congregation.

Scope and Content Note:
Membership records; minutes of trustees, church organizations and committees; clerk records and financial records; anniversary programs; scrapbooks; a diary of Mary Marx (1929-1930); and numerous clippings of newspaper articles relating to activities of the ministers and members of the First Baptist Church of Chicago (Ill.). Many clippings describe racial integration within the church, ministers, such as Dr. Jitsuo Morikawa (1943-1956) and Rev. Charles Andrews (1957-1965), and other major topics. Records also relate to Sunday schools and church schools and activities of many organizations, including the Woman’s Society, the "Friday Nighters," the Woman’s American Foreign Mission Society, and the World Council of Churches.

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