Archives

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The School of Theology Archives collects, preserves, and provides access to records of enduring, historical value relating to, or created by, the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Boston University School of Theology. Visit our page of frequently asked questions.

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Research Visits, Directions, and Hours of Operation

An appointment is required to access the church records and the other archival collections at Boston University School of Theology Library. Please call or email (617-353-1323 or sthrsrch@bu.edu) before you plan your visit to the library. Hours of operation for the School of Theology Library and Archives and Research Collection can be found here and directions to the library can be found here. It is recommended to take public transportation to visit the library, if at all possible; the School of Theology Library building (745 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Massachusetts 02215) is conveniently located directly across from the BU Central stop of the MBTA’s Green Line (B Train). Note there are several other MBTA buses and trolleys that service the area.

Collection Information

exhibit 002The New England Conference Collections contain Local Church Records, Conference Records, conference journals and other publications. The School of Theology Collections contain records of the administrative offices, organizations and institutes. We also hold personal papers and artifact collections donated by prominent New England Methodists and School of Theology faculty members. Records exist in a variety of different formats including documents, photographs, audio and moving image recordings, artworks and artifacts.

Donation Information

The Archives accepts donations that relate to the United Methodist Church, and its predecessor denominations, in New England. We also collect personal papers, artifacts, art, and other records that relate to the history of Boston University School of Theology. Other collecting areas include records relating to social justice and religion, art and theology, and Global Missions. Contact the Archivist to determine whether your records are eligible for donation.

Click on the collapsible box to get a brief overview of some of the more popular collections the Archives hold; for further information, search our archival holdings or collections page.

This important service organization was founded by Rev. Edgar J. Helms (School of Theology 1895) and has grown to become an international model for social agencies. Annual reports, board minutes, and news clippings from its 100-year history report its activities during the years. Files are arranged chronologically, with a general inventory.

For more information, consult our archival holdings and search for “Morgan Memorial Inc.”

The Commission collection focuses on the history of the United Methodist Church in New England, with Conference Journals, church records, and archived records of conference boards and agencies, along with Methodist-related social and service organization records. Commission materials, especially journals and church records, are listed online. The listing in these pages is complete except for information notes on parish history.

Learn more about the important work done by NECCAH here and search for holdings information.

All materials dealing with the Methodist church in New England, including conference journals and records, church records, records of organizations and social groups, books and papers, were transferred to the New England Conference Commission on Archives and History. Included are manuscript letters and memoirs collected by the Historical Society and books by or about New England Methodism. General histories of the Methodist Episcopal Church recording the evangelization of New England, and national-level publications, such as General Conference materials, the Book of Discipline, and the General Minutes were also transferred to the Commission. All other published materials dealing with Methodism or other topics were transferred to Boston University School of Theology Library, including the Society’s collection of 18th and 19th century publications by or about John and Charles Wesley.

The New England Methodist Historical Society had its first tentative beginnings in 1859, but suspended work during the Civil War. There was a re-birth of interest in the early 1870’s, and full incorporation in 1881. It established a library for the study of Methodism, as well as collecting artifacts from the history of Methodism in New England. Scholars in the Boston area contributed to the library, and historians solicited memoirs from senior Conference members. In addition, a collection of Wesley works and autograph letters was created from various donations.

Members were active in the Association of Methodist Historical Societies from the 1920s onward. When the Book of Discipline required the local conference to preserve their historical materials, the historical society, having already performed that function, became the de facto historical repository for the New England Conference and later the Southern New England Conference..

Membership decreased over the years, and the collection was moved from the Wesleyan Building in Copley Square to the Boston University School of Theology’s new building at 745 Commonwealth Avenue in the early 1950’s. Even before the merger in 1993 of the Maine, New Hampshire, and Southern New England Conferences to form the New England Conference, the role of the historical society and the responsibility of the conference Commission on Archives and History were often in conflict. After much deliberation, the now re-named and re-incorporated New England United Methodist Historical Society voted in 1996 to disperse its collections.

All materials dealing with the Methodist church in New England, including conference journals and records, church records, records of organizations and social groups, books and papers, were tranferred to the New England Conference Commission on Archives and History. Included are manuscript letters and memoirs collected by the Historical Society and books by or about New England Methodism. General histories of the Methodist Episcopal Church recording the evangelization of New England, and national-level publications, such as General Conference materials, the Book of Discipline, and the General Minutes were also transferred to the Commission. All other published materials dealing with Methodism or other topics were transferred to Boston University School of Theology Library, including the Society’s collection of 18th and 19th century publications by or about John and Charles Wesley.

For more information about the New England United Methodist Historical Society, search for it in our archival holdings database here.

The School of Theology Archives is home to a collection of sample leaves from early and important Bible editions. Find information about our holdings here.

One of the side-effects of our early missionary training was a collection of Bibles in various languages, previously in the Reading Room at 72 Mt. Vernon Street. The collection supplements the Massachusetts Bible Society Collection, but is not cataloged on-line.

ILLIAM ELEAZAR BARTON. Clergyman, Samaritan scholar.  Born June 28, 1861, in Sublette, IL; died Dec. 7, 1930 in Foxboro, MA. Attended Berea College, BS 1885, MS 1888, AM 1890, and Oberlin Theological Seminary, BD 1890.  Congregational minister (1885-) serving primarily in Oak Park, IL ( 1899-1924). Associate editor of Bibliotheca Sacra, editor of The Advance. Maintained a lively interest in and correspondence with the Samaritans of Nablus from 1903 until 1926.  During this period, Barton published several articles on the Samaritans in popular and scholarly American journals, and also edited and published a number of essays concerning the sect written by the Samaritan High Priest Jacob (1841-1916). Concern for the financial state of the Samaritan community led Barton to become involved in a humanitarian project for their benefit—an ambitious but ill-fated venture known as the American Samaritan Committee—in part funded by E.K. Warren, an millionaire from Three Oaks, MI.

Scope and Content. The Barton Collection contains materials accumulated during a quarter century (1903-1926) of personal contact with the Samaritans, including correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and scrolls.  Primary material consists of nineteen scrolls, including two Pentateuchal scrolls of early twentieth century vintage, the original and unpublished Arabic texts of Priest Jacob on the history and thought of the sect, five small modern codices of parts of the Samaritan Pentateuch, two Samaritan prayer books, an Arabic treatise by Priest Isaac on Jacob’s Well, and untranslated autobiography of Jacob in Arabic, two copies of the Samaritan Book of Joshua in Arabic, one of which has a commentary in Samaritan Hebrew, and a copy of Abu’l Fath.  The photographs include forty-three prints of the Abisa scroll from a 1919 filming, discredited at the time, but verified as authentic after re-photographing by Perez Castro in the 1950s, and other photographs or glass slides of the Samaritans.  Personal letters reveal his contacts with the Samaritans and dealers through whom he obtained the scrolls and other materials.  Also contains about 150 letters by or about the American Samaritan Committee.

Extent: 7 cu. ft.

Access: No access restrictions.
Limitations: No limitations.
Provenance: Gift, 1953; transferred to Theology Library, March 2000.
Cite as: Barton Samaritan Collection, Boston University School of Theology Library.

For more information about the William E. Barton Samaritan Collection, click here. Further description can be found here.

JAMES D. PURVIS. Scholar and educator.   Dr. Purvis graduated from Harvard University in 1963 with a Doctor of Theology degree for a dissertation entitled “The Origin of the Samaritan Sect.”   His dissertation was published by Harvard University Press in 1968 as volume two in the Harvard Semitic Monographs series.  He joined the faculty at Boston University College of Liberal Arts (now the College of Arts of Sciences) in 1966 as chairman of the Religion Department.  In 1986, he won the Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching at Boston University, and retired from teaching in 1997.  He presented papers on the Samaritans at the Fifth World Congress of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem, 1969), at the Academic Conference on Hebrew Bible (Hebrew College, Brookline, MA, 1974), and at the Fifth Congress of the Société d’Études Samaritaines (Milan, 1996), as well as in festschrifts for G. Ernest Wright (1977), Frank Moore Cross (1982), and H. Neil Richardson (1994). He has provided papers on the Samaritians at regional and national meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature between 1962 and 1995, as well as primary articles for The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible Supplementary Volume (1976), The Biblical Encyclopedia (Jerusalem, 1982), The Cambridge History of Judaism (1989), and A Companion to Samaritan Studies (1993).  His reviews of Samaritan materials have appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, the Journal of Biblical Literature, the Journal of Theological Studies, the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, the Critical Review of Books in Religion, and Religious Studies Review.

Scope and Content: The collection contains both primary and secondary materials on the Samaritans.  The primary materials consist of fifty volumes of Samaritan texts, including thirty-five hand-copied volumes, mostly collected in the early 1960s, for the most part anthologies of liturgical materials–service books for daily and Sabbath prayers, songs and prayer for the liturgical year, and songs for special occasions–as well as copies of biblical texts and theological writings, with texts in Samaritan Aramaic and Hebrew (in Samaritan characters), and less frequently in Arabic (sometimes in a mixture of Arabic and Samaritan characters).  Included are four antiquarian volumes, and a substantial run (1981-82, 1984, 1986, 1996-1999, with some issues from 1991-1992) of Aleph-Beth: The Samaritan News. Secondary materials include twenty-eight monographs in English, Hebrew or German, including bibliographies, mostly published in the 1960s to 1990s, and eighty off-prints or photocopies of articles on the Samaritans, primarily in English with a few in German, mostly from the 1950s to 1990s.

Extent: 8 cu. ft.

Access: No access restrictions.
Limitations: No limitations.
Provenance: Gift, 1999, 2001-2002.
Cite as: Purvis Samaritana Collection, Boston University School of Theology Library.

Processing: Stephen P. Pentek, January 2000, May 2001, February 2002.

Arrangement: Arranged and catalogued by Dr. Purvis in six sections: I. Photographic Reproductions of Hand-copied Samaritan Texts; II. Other Writings by Samaritans; III. Editions of Samaritan Texts by Western Scholars; IV. Samaritan Studies and Research Materials: Books and Monographs; V. Samaritan Studies and Research Materials: Offprints and Photocopies; VI. Aleph-Beth, the Samaritan News.

To see further details on Series I-VI, please click here.

  • Series I:  Photographic Reproductions of Hand-copied Samaritan Texts (35 volumes)
  • Series II: Other Writings by Samaritans (8 volumes)
  • Series III: Editions of Samaritan Texts by Western Scholars (9 volumes)
  • Series IV: Samaritan Studies and Research Materials: Books and Monographs (34 volumes)
  • Series V: Samaritan Studies and Research Materials: Offprints and Photocopies (86 items)
  • Series VI: Aleph-Beth: the Samaritan News (4 bound volumes and 78 issues)

Click here to read more about our Purvis Collection exhibit in Fall 2001.

The Dr. Theresa Scherf research collection on Taize has extensive photocopy resources on early writings of Brother Roger and founding philosophy behind the Taize Movement.

Dr. Theresa Scherf collected these photocopies and translations of source materials while writing her dissertation, “Monasticism as Church: The Taizé Rule in the Light of Western Monastic Tradition” (Ph.D. Marquette University, 1988)

To learn more about the holdings in our Dr. Scherf TaizeCollection, search our archival holdings database here for “Dr. Scherf Taize Collection.”

This collection contains primary source materials on the John Birch Society, including the Blue Book, the White Book, and the Bulletin.

For more detailed information about the Broyles Collection on the John Birch Society, search our archival holdings database here for “Broyles” or “John Birch Society.”

The Anna Howard Shaw Center at Boston University School of Theology promotes structures and practices that empower women and honor diversity. The Center is named after the Reverend Doctor Anna Howard Shaw, a Methodist minister, medical doctor, and suffragist. Ten years after its founding in 1978, the Shaw Center was designated as the women’s center for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.

Anna Howard Shaw graduated from Boston University Theological School in 1878. As an ordained Methodist minister, a medical doctor, and president of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, she was an important religious leader and an active worker for women’s rights.

This center provides resources for research, skill development, and support for all in mission in ministry – laity and clergy.  It is dedicated to and dependent upon the active participation of women and men who are struggling for a future of justice and love – bread and roses for all God’s people.

The collection includes transcripts from an oral history program on clergywomen.  It also includes the center’s old subject files filled with articles on a variety of women’s related topics.  Copies of the Anna Howard Shaw Center newsletter and Sojourner are also part of this collection.

For more detailed information about our holdings in the Anna Howard Shaw Center Collection, search our archival database for “Anna Howard Shaw Center.”