Records of Methodist Episcopal Church Congregations in Louisiana and East Texas during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries are now Online

The following is an announcement from the Centenary College of Louisiana:

The Centenary College of Louisiana Archives and Special Collections recently completed a collaborative digitization project with Perkins School of Theology’s Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University. As a result, researchers now have online access to publications documenting Methodist Episcopal Church congregations along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast and in East Texas during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“This project successfully fills gaps in the collections of each archives and makes the volumes more accessible to the public,” says Chris Brown, Centenary archivist. Each archives handled scanning while Centenary staff and student workers edited the nearly 3,400 scans to create electronic reproductions of the forty-seven volumes.

Timothy Binkley, Bridwell Library Archivist, notes that, “Annual Conference journals are important sources of information about the careers of Methodist clergy, the establishment of circuits and charges, changes in district and conference boundaries, and the actions of conference board and ministries. Due to age and physical use, the Gulf Conference journals have become brittle, and replacement copies are difficult to find. Digitizing the journals and posting them online will help us preserve the information while making it available to more people.”

The Gulf Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church formed in 1893 and merged with the Southern Conference in 1923. As explained by Methodist historian Dr. O. E. Kriege in 1939, “The Gulf Conference was erected to take care of several English speaking congregations which sprang up among settlers from northern states (mainly Iowa) in the western part of Louisiana and in Texas.” Today, this lineage can be traced to current congregations such as Jennings United Methodist Church in Louisiana and Shelbyville United Methodist Church in Texas.

To access this digital collection, visit


Are there similar records for Methodist Episcopal in OH? My 3rd GG Alden Besse 1795-1880 (died in Jasper Co, MO) emigrated from Kennebec Co. Maine to Union OH around 1833 when he was about 38. It would be interesting to find out where he studied to become a minister and what the history was for that denomination in his lifetime.



The Methodist Episcopal Church held excellent records of its clergy and where they were posted. My gg grandfather was a MEC minister in IL and IA from 1833 until 1850, when he became a Baptist minister. I was able to find, through the IL Conference, (which at the time included IA) records of all the churches he served, and the dates, covering this period. I found these records through the Conference Archives, during the late 1990s and early 2000s. At that point, the records were still being held in local areas, with helpful staff I could contact via email. After the time I got the information, because of lack of funds, records were being boxed up and stored somewhere. It was my understanding that the national archives, at Drew University in, as I recall, Madison, NJ, was the repository, or could direct people to where each Conference’s records were held. If nothing else, try Googling Methodist Episcopal Archives. One of the first two hits will be the US archives; the other will be the UK archives. It will be easy to tell them apart by the addresses.

There are also books on early Methodist history in the US, especially on the frontier. The dates of both our ancestors count as “early” here. And Ohio and IL were the frontier. Try to find as old a book as possible. I found those had the most relevant information. Try Google Books. If you’re lucky, you can find books online that you can read. Some may be old enough to be out of copyright, so you can copy them. If you have to order them through InterLibrary Loan, typically the fees are minimal. My library system charges $5 for two weeks with a book, so order one at a time to give yourself plenty of time to read it. Fines are stiff.

Hope this helps.



Are these Methodist records searchable by keyword?


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