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OWU's Beeghly Library Hosts Dedication for Archives of Ohio United Methodism

July 1, 2003

[ Beeghly Library Photo ] DELAWARE, OHIO -- The Archives of the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church have merged with the Archives of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church at Ohio Wesleyan University to form a new collection -- The Archives of Ohio United Methodism. This archival collection is one of only a few such joint collections in the country. The merger has resulted in a much stronger centralized collection for church members and scholars who are doing research on the history of the United Methodist Church and its antecedent denominations in the state of Ohio.

The newly merged Archives will be formally dedicated on Monday, July 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Bayley Room of Beeghly Library at Ohio Wesleyan. The public is invited to attend the dedication, along with attendees of the North Central Jurisdiction Convocation on Archives and History that will be meeting on campus from July 7-10. The Rev. James Skinner, Administrative Assistant to Bishop Jonathon Keaton, will be the speaker for the program.

The West Ohio collection has been housed at Ohio Wesleyan since 1859, while the East Ohio collection has been housed at various locations over the years, including a lengthy stay at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. The collection was moved from its temporary home at Methodist Theological School in Ohio to Ohio Wesleyan in spring of 2002.

The new Archives of United Methodism serves church historians, administrators and clergy, as well as research scholars, genealogists and Ohio Wesleyan students and faculty. The collection includes manuscripts and conference proceedings relevant to the history of Ohio United Methodism as well as artifacts such as John Wesley's cane, photos and other museum objects depicting the history of United Methodism in Ohio. Membership records, baptismal, marriage and funeral records of closed or abandoned United Methodist churches are carefully preserved in the Archives, as well as items of interest such as the papers of Circuit Rider J.B. Finley and Bishop Thomas A. Morris, the Roy Leedy Evangelical collection, materials relating to German Methodism and a large collection of hymnals and tune books.

Dr. Theresa Byrd, Director of the Ohio Wesleyan Libraries and the late Susan Cohen, former curator of the West Ohio Conference Archives Center, served on committees that worked with groups from both the West Ohio and East Ohio Conferences of the United Methodist Church to facilitate the merger as have numerous others. Governance is provided by a Joint Archives Committee chaired by Rev. Jon Powers and composed of representatives from the West Ohio Conference, the East Ohio Conference and Ohio Wesleyan.

"I'm delighted to have the collections housed at Ohio Wesleyan and will strive to provide a good home for them. The merger has resulted in our having one of the ten best United Methodist collections in the country," says Dr. Byrd.

For further information about the dedication service, contact Carol Holliger, Archivist of the Archives of Ohio United Methodism, at 740-368-3285. The Center is open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. - noon and 1 - 5 p.m. Researchers and visitors are welcome. Research questions about United Methodism can also be submitted by e-mail at aoum@owu.edu or via a request form on the Archives Web page.