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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.
About the Collection
The Commission is charged by the United Methodist Book of Discipline to preserve the records of the United Methodist Church and its predecessors within the Conference boundaries. For reference purposes, this collection retains records of the General Conferences, the Disciplines, and the General Minutes of [all] the Annual Conferences. Local records include annual conference journals within the six-state New England area, records from closed churches or older records from continuing churches, records of conference boards or agencies, and records of Methodist organizations or activities within the area. Coverage within these areas is not comprehensive, but all church and conference records that we have are listed in these pages. The content of church records do vary, but they typically contain: lists of probationers, members, baptism, marriages, and sometimes deaths; quarterly conference records report the pastor-parish relations and projects of the churches; financial records may indicate collections and local dispursements; there are sometimes records of Sunday Schools, Men’s and Women’s Groups, Missionary Societies, youth groups, and other activities or organizations within the church; scrapbooks or local histories.
What We Can Provide
We can usually provide information on ordained Methodist Episcopal, Methodist or United Methodist pastors who served in the region as full members of the conferences, but it is very unlikely that we have much information, if any, on local pastors or evangelists who worked in the conference area. Church records must be accessed by state-town-and date: there is no master list of members who appear in the various church record books. Without the town and approximate date, we cannot search broadly for information. The collection of church records is far from complete, but we have listed those records in our collection. If we don’t have records from a particular church, we try to locate an existing church that might have records of earlier or nearby churches. Conference records will list each active church each year, with the pastor appointed and membership statistics, but not individual member names. Note that church records for baptism only list parents for an infant baptism, not for adult baptisms, and never list godparents. Additionally, marriage records do not contain information on the parents of the bride and groom, or names of witnesses.
Access to the Collection
The collection is housed within the Boston University School of Theology Library at 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA 02215 as part of the Research Collections. Though the Theology Library is open for longer hours during the school year, the Research Collection Reading Room is available only when full-time staff are on duty: Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm. Email or letter requests are accepted if enough information is provided and a brief search can be performed for the information. When questions are not within our area of coverage, we try to refer researchers to the appropriate conference resource. For questions or appointments, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (617) 353-1323.
A limited number of items will be given to a researcher at one time. Pencils only may be used for taking notes. No marks are to be placed on the original documents. Researchers may not make photocopies of any item but may request that photocopies be made by the archives staff, who will exercise their discretion based on the condition of the original records to determine whether photocopies can be made.
- Local Conference Records
- Church Records and Historical Files, by State
- Zion’s Herald and other newspapers
- Personal Papers
- Marvin and Carolyn Piburn papers
- Manuscript History Collection, sorted by author:
- Manuscript History Collection, sorted by subject:
- Collection of Autograph Letters, sorted by author:
- General Conference Publications
- Heritage Trails of the United Methodist Church
- Local Methodist Organizations