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History & Background
Archives of Ohio United Methodism
The Archives of Ohio United Methodism is a collection of books, manuscripts, pamphlets, periodicals, artifacts, and other materials organized to encourage the study of the history of United Methodism in Ohio. The Archives is housed at Beeghly Library, Ohio Wesleyan University and is jointly sponsored and supported by the University and the East and West Ohio Conferences of the United Methodist Church.
Efforts to preserve the history of Ohio Methodism began in 1839 when a group of Methodist ministers incorporated the Western Methodist Historical Society in Cincinnati. Its purpose was to "collect and preserve. . .materials for a complete and authentic history of the Methodist Episcopal Church west of the Allegheny Mountains. . ." Hundreds of priceless books, letters, journals and manuscripts were collected. In 1859 the society found a permanent home for its materials at Ohio Wesleyan University. These original materials remain a part of the Archives at Beeghly Library and exemplify the longstanding commitment between the University and the Church. Through the efforts of many groups and individuals over the years, the original materials have been augmented to build a large and impressive collection representing the evolving history of Ohio United Methodism. The current collection is the official archives for both the East and West Ohio Conferences of the United Methodist Church and is inclusive of all antecedent denominations and groups whose heritage is a part of these two conferences. The Western Methodist Historical Society, renamed by corporate change several times across the years, still exists as a separate organization whose primary purpose is the education of local church historians. Its current name is the United Methodist Historical Society of Ohio. Financial support for the Archives of Ohio United Methodism comes from the East and West Ohio Conferences of the United Methodist Church and Ohio Wesleyan University.
The Archives of Ohio United Methodism serves as the official repository for materials generated or owned by the East and West Ohio Conferences of the United Methodist Church and their antecedents, their organizations, districts, churches, and individuals associated with the conferences. The collection also includes materials deposited by Ohio Wesleyan University. The materials gathered by the United Methodist Historical Society of Ohio have been located in the Center.
The Archives of Ohio United Methodism is the result of the cooperation of the East and West Ohio Conferences of the United Methodist Church and their antecedents and Ohio Wesleyan University, but it is also the result of the efforts made by individuals associated with all three organizations and with the United Methodist Historical Society of Ohio. The cooperation and contributions of organizations and individuals continues to be essential to the development of the Archives' collections and services.
The Archives of Ohio United Methodism at Ohio Wesleyan University exists to gather, organize, preserve, and interpret the historical foundations of the United Methodist Church especially in the East and West Ohio Conferences and related areas. Specifically, the Archives is organized to:
- assist the historians of the local United Methodist churches in gathering appropriate information and interpreting the history of their churches;
- meet the needs of scholars researching the history of the United Methodist Church particularly in Ohio;
- assist the East and West Ohio Commissions on Archives and History in the interpretation of United Methodist history to individual United Methodists and to local churches
- provide a unique resource for study at Ohio Wesleyan University, one accommodating students pursuing studies in fields related to areas collected by the Center;
- meet the needs of those pursuing genealogical studies of families whose ancestors include United Methodist clergy serving in Ohio.
The Archives of Ohio United Methodism is open to all those who wish to make use, within the constraints of Archives' policies, of the collections and services. First priority is given collectively to the members of the Church, the Ohio Wesleyan University community, and students and scholars elsewhere. Genealogists are serviced as time and resources permit.
SCOPE OF THE COLLECTION
The collection functions as an archival and historical repository and research center. Items which represent the heritage of the United Methodist Church in Ohio from its inception up to and including the present day will be selected. Primary emphasis is on the East and West Ohio Conferences with other materials maintained from antecedent conferences. The Archives Center has four collections:
1) Books about the history of United Methodism in general (no restrictions);
2) Manuscripts and conference proceedings relevant to the history of Ohio United Methodism;
3) Artifacts, photos, and other museum objects of good quality that depict the history of United Methodism in Ohio,
4) Publications of the United Methodist Church
Items which are of historical or community significance, rather than purely personal significance, are collected. Local church histories are actively collected. Significant records of abandoned and closed churches are maintained as directed by the Discipline of the United Methodist Church. The records of active local churches are maintained at the local level.
For further assistance or information, contact:
Carol Holliger, Archivist
Archives of Ohio United Methodism
Ohio Wesleyan University
43 Rowland Ave.
Delaware, OH 43015