October 7, 2014 Marston Memorial Historical Center
Update from Digital Librarian
Part of my responsibility since the move to the new archive space has been to inventory, process and put into one place much of the audio-visual materials in our possession. The collection includes everything from audio tapes and reels, filmstrips, photograph slides, vinyl records, VHS tapes and more. It has been fascinating and informative looking through these resources. The earliest resources are audio tapes of sermons from the 1900s-1910s from preachers like Samuel Cooley and William Cusick. And they continue to the present day with DVDs created by the World Missions Department. A person can learn a lot about a group of people through what they decide is important to record and photograph.
The task began before the new archive was completed by going through several large cabinets we have in the Historical Center. A large portion of the audio-visual materials was housed in these cabinets. There are several films from various Free Methodist departments such as World Missions and Christian Education. There are films that are professional productions and some that are home productions depicting Free Methodist events and everyday life in the US and abroad. Some interesting titles include Zuiko, It Took a Miracle and Beauty for Ashes.
Probably the most time-consuming portion was going through several hundred slides of photographs spanning the 1940s to the 1990s. I processed and categorized the slides into about 10 collections. The biggest collection of slides pertained to Missions. Scenes from the Mission fields of Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin and South America are depicted. Groups of converts, newly built churches, landscapes, and missionary life in general are shown. There are also slides from the collections of several retired missionaries like Betty Ellen Cox, Jacob DeShazer and Victor Macy. Other categories of slides include Christian Education, Free Methodist history, Conferences, and the World Ministries Center. I have also digitized a small portion of these slides. Click here to view some examples.
I also created databases of the vinyl records, audiocassettes and VHS tapes in our collection. The vinyls are from several Free Methodist musical groups like Free Spirit, Living Faith (Central College) and the Shorb Brothers. The audiocassettes include music, sermons, reports from Conferences, etc. Some of the interesting VHS tapes include home videos of the headquarters move from Winona Lake to Indianapolis, Through Wesley's England a tour of historical sites in England, and a video produced by Greenville College entitled The Fire: A Story of Tragedy, Hope, and Healing.
These audio-visual resources are important tools available through the Historical Center. A small part of this vast collection of materials has been digitized and put on our website. You can visit the Collections page of our site to take a look at some of the resources that have been digitized. Included are videos, photographs, Light & Life Hour broadcasts, sermons and music from various FM sources. Using these audio-visual resources is one way the Historical Center can help to understand how the Free Methodist Church has developed over the years.
The archive has quite a list of oral histories that have been recorded over the years. Retired missionaries, Dean and Faith Smidderks who served in Africa for more than 35 years, have recently recorded their story. You can view a list of these on our Oral Histories page.
If you are interested in viewing any of these interviews, feel free to schedule a visit to the Marston Historical Center.
We now have t-shirts designed with a stylized picture of B.T. and Ellen Roberts on the front and the Top 10 Reasons to Be a Free Methodist on the back. For previews of the t-shirt and for more information and how to order them, visit our webpage here.
Renovations-The Zahniser Chapel
Thanks to the generosity of the extended Zahniser family network, the new chapel in the renovated Marston Historical Center will be called the Zahniser Chapel. This will be a primary place for holding small gatherings, for prayer and meditation, and for telling aspects of the Free Methodist Story through the use of videos.
The Zahniser Chapel will replicate a 1910-era Free Methodist sanctuary, including (free!) pews and the 1910 semi-centennial Free Methodist Hymnal, popular in the church for several decades. The chapel will also include original wooden wainscoting from the very first "Free" Methodist Church building in New York State, at Albion, N.Y.
A brochure and photos will tell the story of the five Zahniser brothers who were Free Methodist preachers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including Bishop A. D. Zahniser. Descendants of the Zahniser preachers who have made ministry contributions to the church over the years will also be highlighted.
Archive of FM History Update
To view past issues of the FM History Update newsletter, visit our webpage here.