how to find them and how to use them

There are a number of collections of institutional and personal records relating to the Methodist Church and Methodism, and also a range of libraries that contain good collections of material.

Here are some tips for using archives :

  • You will need to register to get in: check what you will need to do this before you set off!
  • The documents will be kept in a strong room, and you will need to ask before you can look at them in the reading room. Make sure you leave time to look up what you want in the catalogue, and time for the staff to find it for you.
  • You will not be able to borrow anything.
  • You will only be allowed to take a few things in. Use pencils or a laptop to make notes.
  • You may be asked to use surrogate copies (photocopies, microform or digital copies). This is to protect the originals.
  • Remember that archivists and librarians are trained to help you find information. They can show you how to find answers to your questions about Methodism, but they won't necessarily know the answers themselves.

Records of Methodism

at a national level


Connexional Archive

at John Rylands Research Institute and Library (Manchester)

John Rylands Reading Room


Missionary Society Archive

at SOAS, University of London

SOAS library

Records of Methodism

at a local level

The records of individual churches are held in local authority

record offices across the country - individual churches form part of a circuit.


Local records offices

Type in the name of the place you are interested in, and what sort of Methodists, and you should discover how much has been deposited and where it is.


Archives of Methodist

training institutions

Wesley House, Cambridge

500 items in an archive, which are mainly institutional records, but include the Beales-Coulson Archive of material relating to the early days of student Methodist Societies.

Queens Foundation, Birmingham

holds institutional records from 1978.

Cliff College

has a large archive of 1,157 items, recently listed. These are mainly institutional records, but there is a collection of material relating to the eighteenth century preacher, John Fletcher.

Southlands College

Southlands College was another Methodist teacher training college, now part of the University of Roehampton. The institutional records are still held on site, and have been listed at

The Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History

holds the institutional records of Westminster College, a Methodist teacher training college, and the personal papers of Rev Dr Donald English and Rev Bill Gowland.

Other Methodist libraries

There are a number of libraries that are open to those researching into Methodism.

Manchester Wesley Research Centre

Offers facilities for scholars, which may be explored by visiting the website linked below.


Wesley Historical Society Library

Is the second most significant collection of Methodist published works in Britain. Search the catalogue via Oxford Brookes online catalogue.


Englesea Brook Chapel & Museum

Has a library of 7000 items, with particular emphasis on Primitive Methodism. The catalogue may be searched and referenced via the button below.


The Wesley Historical Society, North East Branch

The library is in the care of the Literary and Philosophical Society, in The Lit & Phil library in Newcastle.


Cornish Methodist Historical Association Library

This is housed in the Kresen Kernow in Redruth, an excellent facility where the records cover the highly significant Methodist presence in Cornwall.


Research resources available online

The Dictionary of Methodism in Britain and Ireland (DMBI)

Website with over 3,000 entries including information on prominent Methodists from all ages, pre-1932 Methodist groups, many Methodist Churches and Circuits, Theological colleges and Methodist organisations.

Online books & research

There has been an explosion of electronic books in the past few years, along with means to read them. As most works published before 1900 are now out of copyright, and therefore cost publishers nothing to reproduce, many have been reprinted. This includes many books about the early days of Methodism.