The Archives of “The Church”

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June 1, 2016 by tomneel

I got my history degree from a “church” school – Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio – one of many educational institutions that were developed along denominational lines. Here are just a few:

Episcopal – Kenyon College at Gambier – 1828

Baptist – Denison University at Granville – 1831

Presbyterian – Oberlin College – 1833

Methodist – Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware – 1842

Lutheran – Wittenberg University at Springfield – 1845

Disciple – Hiram College at Hiram – 1850

Swedenborg – Urbana University at Urbana – 1850

Quaker – Wilmington College – 1870

Brethren – Ashland University – 1878


Gray Chapel, Ohio Wesleyan University

Although none of these institutions have religious requirements in their admission policies and few still offer chapel, they all feel some responsibility to their religious heritage and set aside funds for the maintenance of an archives and often dedicated archival staff.

Carol Holliger, Archivist at the Archives of Ohio United Methodism in Beeghly Library at Ohio Wesleyan University has done a wonderful job with online finding aids on local church histories, Methodist manuscripts, and subject/people vertical files –

At a recent OhioDigs meeting, the staff at Denison University promoted their digital collection on Denison’s connection with American Foreign Baptist Missions in Burma, an effort to map all 19th century missions in that country with links to related manuscripts in Content DM –

Dave Roepke, Ashland University Archivist, has included a Brethren Church Archives as a part of the main university digital page – Church minutes, religious periodicals, and rare books – many of them in German – are among the Brethren manuscripts that have been digitized.


Studying at Slocum, Ohio Wesleyan University

The Center for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University took an overall approach to serve genealogists by working with missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Family Search) to microfilm church records in northwestern Ohio –   The Catholic records, in particular, have now been digitized with the permission of the Diocese of Toledo –

These are just a few examples. Do explore your nearest “church archives” in Ohio both online and in person. They contain many treasures.


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