The American Methodism Project

A consortium of academic librarians are working on the front end of a long term digitization initiative. The American Methodism Project is a collaborative effort on the part of thirteen seminary libraries affiliated with The United Methodist Church, the General Commission on Archives and History, The Methodist Librarians’ Fellowship of ATLA, and the Internet Archive. The project is in its earliest phase and will soon have a couple thousand digitized books related Wesleyan and Methodist studies available online for reading and/or downloading.

A description of the project follows:

The American Methodism Project is a digitized collection of interdisciplinary and historical materials related to American Methodism. The primary goal of this project is to provide both the digital tools and the digitized texts of American Methodism to better understand both Methodism and the United States. Contemporary questions of church and state boundaries, the role of government, moral development, education, leadership, labor, immigration, family, etc. are topics which can benefit from debates and reflections contained within this corpus of materials.

The scope of the project focuses upon described and published materials of American Methodism that are of value to researchers for access, searching, and analysis. From local churches to global missionaries, the project will document American Methodism’s role and reach within local communities and the broader society by published minutes of meetings, local church histories, magazines, papers and pamphlets, books, reference works, and dissertations.

American Methodism is especially well-documented and can provide significant insights into the debates and developments of local communities, regions, and the nation. Once established, Methodism grew with the United States so that it included more than 34 percent of all American church members by 1850. Nathan Hatch and others have noted how American Methodism uniquely parallels the development of the United States and its culture over time. Methodists established hospitals, orphanages, and colleges (at one point more than one per year), and even today the United Methodist Church claims to be the only Christian body to have established a congregation in every county of the United States. The varied sources, voices, and perspectives of these documents will provide a rich resource for interpreting the past. The project also hopes to stimulate the creation of tools to analyze this corpus of material.

The project is a partnership between the United Methodist-related seminary libraries, the Internet Archive, the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History, and the Methodist Librarians Fellowship. Additional materials will be selected from the partner libraries, other related institutions, historical societies, scholarly societies, publishers, other libraries and archives, annual conferences, United Methodist agencies, local churches, and other Methodist-related denominations.

The project coordinators are always interested in receiving nominations for the digitization of specific books. Please feel free to recommend books in the comment section below. We are also considering creative ways to fund the project. We trust the digitized materials will be useful resources in both the academy and the local church.


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