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Reverend Burton C. and Dr. Shirley B. Seabrook
Cathie Family Collection Inventory


Inventoried and processed by Sally Weiner, Archivist, in March 2021 (ongoing)

Biographical Information
Burton Chadwick Cathie and Shirley Bernice Seabrook grew up as neighbors in Atlantic City in the 1930s. Since their fathers had a lot in common and both families shared a similar religious background, they became close friends. Burton Cathie and Shirley Seabrook married in 1941, when they were still teenagers, and moved to Plainfield. 

After working in a foundry, a chemical plant, and for the Ford Motor Company, Burton Cathie decided to follow in his grandmother’s and father’s footsteps to become a minister. He received his theological education at the Alma White College of Zarephath, New Jersey and the New Brunswick Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1957. Reverend Cathie founded the Community Church of God in Plainfield in 1960, with Shirley Cathie working alongside him as Sunday school teacher and “church mom.” She and their daughters, Carolyn and Shirley, also provided music for the church by forming the Cathie Trio. They recorded albums, performed nationally and internationally, and made radio and television appearances.

Reverend Cathie was not only active in the church, but in the Plainfield community as well, as an activist and religious mentor. He was an advisor to the Police Board of Plainfield and a member of the Human Relations Commission, the Crime Prevention Committee, and the Concerned Clergy of Plainfield. He was honored by the New Jersey Association of Black Social Workers, Inc., the Black Cultural and Historical Society of Union County, the Community Church of God, and the South Second Street Youth Center. In 2003, the Plainfield Municipal Council designated a portion of West 6th Street at the corner of New Street as Burton C. Cathie Plaza.

Like her husband, Shirley Cathie also had a calling to become a minister. After completing her high school equivalency, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Science from Rutgers University, a Master of Arts in Education from Montclair State University, a Doctorate in Education from Rutgers Graduate School of Education, and a Master of Theology from Drew University. While attending school, she served as co-pastor with her husband, who was battling a prolonged illness. When she became ordained in 1994, Dr. Cathie took over as Pastor of the Community Church of God.

In addition to being a minister, Dr. Cathie was a full-time instructor at Rutgers University, Douglass College, and University College at Montclair State University. She served as both state and regional Education Consultant for the New Jersey State Department of Education and was appointed by Plainfield mayor Richard L. Taylor and the Union County College Board as the first director of the Plainfield branch of Union County College. Dr. Cathie was an active member of Zeta Phi Beta, co-founded The Black Women’s History Conference, served as President of the Union County Commission on the Status of Women, and founded the Burton C. and Shirley B. Cathie Family Life Development Center. In 2017, Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and the Plainfield City Council dedicated and re-named Church Street in her honor.
During their careers, and even after retirement, Reverend Burton Cathie and Reverend Dr. Shirley Cathie both received numerous awards and honors from various organizations, institutions, and the city of Plainfield itself. They traveled the world for their ministry work, including trips to El Salvador, Bermuda, Russia, London, France, South Africa, West Africa, Jamaica, Canada, and the Bahamas. Burton and Shirley Cathie’s legacy of church and community work lives on in their daughters, Reverend Carolyn Cathie-Waddy-Reid and Chaplain Shirley Cathie-Garrett, who have established successful ministries of their own.

Container List

Box 1

  • Shirley Cathie – clippings, flyers, correspondence, 1994-2007

       Royal Caribbean Cruise Scrapbooks

  • Shirley & Burton Cathie – itinerary, ephemera, photos, 1993 & 1996

Box 2
       Photographs, 1963-2002

  • Jamaica, 1971
  • Portland, OR, 1969
  • New Orleans, 1969
  • Wisconsin Dells, 1969
  • Myrtle Beach, 2001
  • Bermuda, 2002
  • Cruise
  • Group trips
  • Church events
  • Family & friends

       Photo Envelopes – Negatives & Slides, 1971-1973

  • “My Graduation”, 1971
  • “Sissie-Thanksgiving, Bookie-Boy Souts”, 1972
  • Africa Village, 1972-1973
  • Flint, MI, 1971
  • 11 envelopes of unlabeled and undated negatives

       Boxes of Slides, 1971-1974

  • Cathie Trio promo photos, undated
  • July 4 Parade & Flood, 1973
  • Oatepec, Mexico, undated
  • Portland, OR, undated
  • Washington School Day Workshop for Parents, 1973
  • Africa Party Luncheon for Commanders, undated
  • Bermuda, undated
  • Flint, MI, 1971
  • “Graduation Party for Me”, undated
  • “Graduation Mommie”, undated
  • Leisure Village West: A Planned Retirement Community, 1974
  • 6 boxes of unlabeled slides, 1973-1974

       Commercial Slides

  • Landmarks in USSR (5 boxes)
  • Jamaica, New Orleans, NASA Tours



  • Loose slides
  • Filmstrips – “Growing Up Black”, “How and Average One-Year Old Child Behaves”, “Classroom Grade 4 Oct. 1971”

Box 3 – Awards
       Awarded to Shirley Cathie

  • Rolling Hills Girl Scout Council, Woman of Achievement, 1997
  • NACOG Percy M. Brown Distinguished Christian Service Award (PA), 2009
  • West End Reunion Committee Distinguished Service Award to Youth & Community (Plainfield), 2008
  • Concerned Urban Clergy of Plainfield & Vicinity Outstanding Clergy Service, 2009
  • NAACP NJ State Conference Religious Leader of Excellence, 2012
  • Proclamation, Women of the Community Church of God 1st Woman Pastor of the Community Church of God, 1995

       Awarded to Burton & Shirley Cathie

  • Officers & Members of the Concerned Clergy for Their Unselfish and Outstanding Work to the Plainfield Community, 1987

       “Father” plaque

Box 4 – Awards
       Awarded to Shirley Cathie

  • Directory of Distinguished Americans 1981 Edition for Scholarship and Community Service
  • Plainfield Board of Education for Outstanding & Dedicated Services to Citizens and School Children of the City of Plainfield, 1988

       Awarded to Burton Cathie

  • Community Church of God, the Men’s Auxiliary, More than 50 Years of Dedicated Service to the Church, Community and the Human Family, 1997 (clock)

       Clock frame with picture of woman standing in front of a train

Box 5 – Awards
Awarded to Shirley Cathie

  • National Council of Negro Women, Inc. Plainfield-Scotch Plains Section Outstanding Educational Award, 1990
  • Holy Ground Outreach Ministries, Inc. Contributor to Our Community, 2010
  • N.A.U.M. Plainfield Branch Outstanding Women Award, 1975
  • NJ State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc. Outstanding Citizen Award, 1988
  • Plainfield-Brunswick Branch of the National Association of University Women Dedication & Service, undated
  • Guys & Dolls 1st Annual “Giving it Back” Youth Motivator, 1990
  • NJ State Daughters of Elks Service Award, 1990
  • Rutgers University Dean’s List, 1969-1970
  • Gamma Nu Sigma Chapter Community Service Award, 1977
  • M.W.A. Outstanding Academic Achievement, 1980
  • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, undated
  • Girls Scouts of Washington Rock Council Commitment & Support to Girl Scouting, undated
  • Community Church of God Woman of Excellence Outstanding Pastor Award, undated

Awarded to Burton Cathie

  • Black Women’s History Conference Leading the Way and Keeping Hope Alive for Black Women, 1992
  • From Dr. Mettony Dewberry for 35 Years of Devoted & Loyal Service as Pastor, 1994
  • Plainfield Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition Outstanding Role Model in the Plainfield Community, 1992
  • Grant Avenue Community Center for Distinguished Service in Civic Achievement, 1981

BCSB Cathie Family Life Development Center – Sponsor for 8th and 10th Annual George “Gee Gee” Brown Memorial Basketball Tournament, 2004 & 2006

Box 6 – Awards
       Awarded to Shirley Cathie

  • Preacher par Excellence (Plainfield), 1986
  • Service Award for Outstanding and Distinguished Service to the Concerned Urban Clergy of Plainfield and Vicinity as Director of S.C.O.P.E., 2005
  • In honor of…from Evelyn Corswell, 2005
  • The City of Plainfield Welcomes the Union County College of Plainfield, 1986
  • Frontiers International Lifetime Community Service Award, 2011
  • National Association of University Women, Inc. Recognition of Leadership, Dedication and Contributions, 2005

Awarded to Burton Cathie

  • Preacher par Excellence (Plainfield), 1989
  • Housing Authority of Plainfield Rehabilitation of Netherwood Village and Many Years of Excellent Community Service, 1994
  • Congregation of the Community Church of God, 1980
  • Northside Deliverance Church of God (Ohio) in Loving Memory, 2003
  • Personal plaque from the Crawfords on his retirement, 1982
  • S.S.Y.C. Man of the Year Outstanding Service to God and Community, 1968

Box 7 – Photos

  • World Conference, undated
  • Includes Cathie 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1991
  • Commemorative, guest book, c. 2005
  • Rutgers Alumni dinner
  • Photos from banquet, 1970s-80s
  • Events in classroom, 1980s
  • Fashion show, 1970s-80s
  • Conference/classroom (B&W), 1960s-70s

Box 8 – Photos

  • Postcards, photos of family, church; includes obit for Matilda Seabrook (Shirley Cathie’s mother) and certificate of church membership for Dorothy Lee (Shirley Cathie’s sister), 1970s-80s
  • Church congregation, 1980s
  • Trip to El Salvador; includes folder with foreign money and ephemera, 1990s

Box 9 – Photos

  • Photos, correspondence, re: Cathie Trio, 1969-1971
  • Union County College opening ceremonies, 1980s
  • International Wesleyan/Holiness Women Clergy Conference, New Mexico, 1994
  • Cathie anniversary party – cards and photos, c. 1991
  • Church members & events, 1980s

Box 10 – Papers
       Folder 1: Clippings
       Folder 2: Personal Papers
       Folder 3: Burton Cathie Retirement
       Folder 4: Zeta Phi Beta
       Folder 5: Pre-Marriage Counseling (Shirley Cathie)
       Folder 6: Obits/Memorials
       Folder 7: BCSB Cathie Family Life Development Center
       Folder 8: Award Ceremonies for Shirley Cathie + binder
       Folder 9: Community Church of God
       Folder 10: Correspondence
       Folder 11: Black Women’s History Conference
       Folder 12: Black Women’s History Conference
       Folder 13: Education – includes Rutgers, yearbooks, Drew University program
       Folder 14: Shirley Cathie Writings
       Folder 15: Naming Ceremony for Burton Cathie
       Folder 16: Shirley Cathie Retirement
       Folder 17: Certificates (Shirley Cathie)
       Folder 18: Burton Cathie Memorials & Tributes
       Folder 19: “Tid Bits” by Burton Cathie (written down by Shirley Cathie-Garrett)
       Folder 20: Miscellaneous
       No folder:

  • Guest book from Shirley & Burton Cathie’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1991
  • Guest book from Shirley & Burton Cathie’s 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1991
  • Judkins Funeral Home Memorial Book for Burton Cathie, 2001
  • Shirley Cathie doctorate dissertation, 1980
  • Rutgers yearbook, Shirley Seabrook Cathie, 1971
  • Anderson College yearbook, Shirley Cathie (daughter), 1972

       Document Box (Legal)

  • Certificates/Proclamations for Burton Cathie, Burton & Shirley Cathie, Shirley Cathie (3 folders)

Box 11 – Awards
       Awarded to Burton Cathie

  • Community Church of God, 1980
  • SSYC Salutes the Elder Rev. Burton C. Cathie Community Church of God, 1995
  • The Black Cultural & Historical Society of Union County Frederick Douglass Award Outstanding Civic Achievement and Demonstrating Courage, Integrity and Humanness, 1984

Awarded to Shirley Cathie

  • N.A.U.W. Plainfield-Brunswick Branch for Outstanding Achievement and Community Service, 1980

Box 12 – Awards
       Awarded to Shirley Cathie

  • Drew University diploma, Master of Theological Studies, 1993
  • Festival of the Arts & Heritage of African Americans Community Service Award, 1997
  • Montclair State College diploma, Master of Arts, 1972
  • National Board of Christian Education Teacher of Recognition, undated
  • Rutgers University diploma, Bachelor of Science, 1971
  • High School Equivalent Certificate, 1961
  • Blanton-Peale Graduate Institute of the Institutes of Religion and Health Certificate, 1995
  • Certificate of Recognition for Active and Cooperative Participation in Community Service, 1988
  • Concerned Urban Clergy of Plainfield & Vicinity Certificate of Appreciation Faithful and Dedicated Service to the Community and Plainfield, 2007

Box 13 – Oversize Box

  • Poster, Third Annual City News 100 Most Influential, Shirley Cathie, 1998
  • Matted image of Shirley Cathie, undated
  • Portrait photos (5) of Shirley Cathie, c. 2005
  • Portrait photo of Shirley Cathie (daughter), 1950s/60s
  • Print, woman braiding other woman’s hair, by Laurel Duplessis, 1984
  • Photo, Shirley Cathie with NJ Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Community Leaders, Black United Fund, Plainfield, undated
  • Family name history certificate, for Seabrook, 1991
  • Laminated Courier News articles about Shirley & Burton (1991) and Shirley (2005)
  • Posters (5), retirement banquet for Burton, 1994
  • NJ Senate Resolution, honoring Shirley & Burton for their 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1991 (3 copies)
  • NJ Joint Legislative Resolution, honoring Burton for 35 years of service, 1994
  • NJ Assembly Resolution, honoring Shirley for more than 40 years of service, 2005
  • Plainfield proclamation, Reverend Burton C. Cathie Day, June 5, 1994
  • Scrapbook with photos and ephemera, 1950s-60s

Box 14 – Oversize Box – Awards
       Awarded to Shirley Cathie

  • BWHC Steering Committee Outstanding Leadership in Establishing the Black Women’s History Conference, Inc., 1985

Awarded to Burton Cathie

  • Members of the Church of God for Years of Community Service, 1969
  • Caring & Sharing Service Center, 1985
  • Devotion and Commitment to the Plainfield Community, 1994


  • LP album, “The Cathie Trio Sings Hymns of Faith and Trust”
  • LP album, The Cathie Trio “Lord I Need You: Walk With Me”
  • LP album, 1962 Choral Festival Plainfield High School, featuring Shirley Cathie (daughter)
  • LP album, The Cathie Trio
  • 45 album, The Cathie Trio, “Lord I Need You” & “Mansion Over the Hilltop”
  • Various LP albums – music, audio for “Growing Up Black” filmstrip
  • Wooden desk sign, Dr. Shirley Cathie
  • Bible, presented to the Plainfield Public Library by Rev. Shirley B. Cathie-Garrett, 2015
  • New Testament, presented to Rev. Shirley B. Cathie, 2006
  • Drew University Alumni Today, 2010


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