Grosgrain lapel ribbon printed “SUNDAY SCHOOL / No. 34. / HARLEM / CONGREGATIONAL / CHURCH.” and with illustration of a crown and crucifix (at center) on recto. Bias tape tag with Connecticut Historical Society accession number “1982-60-3” sewn onto verso.
The Harlem Congregational Church was founded in 1862 at 125th Street and Second Avenue. Known widely as the Pilgrim Congregational Church, it was established by thirty-eight members of the Dutch Reformed Church of Harlem who left their former congregation over its pro-slavery views. The Harlem Congregational Church was recognized for its social and community activism, particularly its children’s education programs, and the small piece of Plymouth Rock set into the pulpit of its second home at 121st Street and Madison Avenue (built in 1883). The church was guided by welcoming pastors renowned for their broadminded political views and all-encompassing philosophies. Rev. Dr. Samuel Henderson Virgin (1844-1911), who presided over the congregation from 1871 to 1891, was especially credited for the many programs he started both outside of and within the church community. Among his church programs was the first Chinese Sunday School in New York, as well as a Spanish Sunday School, kindergarten, programs for the elderly and indigent, and an industrial school. This ribbon was likely made for a Harlem Congregational Church Sunday School event.