United Methodist Historical Society of Ohio
Friday, March 01, 2024
Established in 1839






In 1839, at a time when the Methodist Episcopal Church in Ohio was only three decades old and still struggling on a frontier, a group of ministers from Ohio organized the Western Methodist Historical Society in Cincinnati for the sole purpose of preserving the records, manuscripts, memorabilia and books relating to Methodism in Ohio, an area bounded by the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. In 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University was founded by the Ohio and North Ohio Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Delaware, Ohio. In the year 1858, following years of Society inactivity, Samuel Williams sent a letter to the Faculty and Trustees of Ohio Wesleyan University suggesting that the materials of the Society be housed at the University. Williams’ recommendation was adopted, and the collection was moved to the University in 1859.


Due to some changes in terminology from the Western Methodist Historical Society to the Ohio Methodist Historical Society, a new charter was necessary. On January 20th, 1911, incorporation papers for the Ohio Methodist Historical Society were drawn up and approved by the State of Ohio. In 1977, a Certificate of Amendment was filed with the State of Ohio changing our name to the United Methodist Historical Society of Ohio.


In 1929, a rebirth of the Historical Society was seen under the dynamic leadership of Rev. Austin M. Courtenay and Dr. Russell B. Miller, Librarian at the Ohio Wesleyan University. Separate space was cleared in the University Library and a proper archival system was instituted. Dr. Miller waded through a century of accumulated materials bringing them into a semblance of order. His work placed the Society firmly on its feet as a truly remarkable research collection.


In 1987, the United Methodist Historical Society of Ohio transferred ownership of these accumulated materials to the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church in order to provide for continuity of care and ownership in relation to The United Methodism Church at large. Following the transfer, the focus of the Society’s work shifted away from collection maintenance to training of Local Church Historians, promoting the study of Ohio UMC history, and other non-archives related activities. In 2003, the collections of the West Ohio and East Ohio Conferences were merged at Ohio Wesleyan University as the Archives of Ohio United Methodism. Management and funding of the archival collections is under the purview of the West and East Ohio Conferences and a Joint Archives Committee. Ownership of materials in the East Ohio collection resides with the East Ohio Conference. Ownership of material in the West Ohio collection resides with the West Ohio Conference. Ohio Wesleyan University serves as the custodian of these collections.


              Revised: Oct 25, 1986, April 25, 1992, April 1, 1995, April 19, 1997, Apr 8, 2001, April 21, 2007, April 26, 2014


The Corporation shall be known as the UNITED METHODIST HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF OHIO, at times herein after referred to as “Society.”


The Society is to be located in the State of Ohio, and its principal business therein transacted. The archivist of the Archives of Ohio United Methodism shall serve as statutory agent for the Society.


The Society is hereby formed for the purpose of promoting interest in the study of the history of The United Methodist Church in the state of Ohio (including its antecedent denominations and conferences) and the training of Local Church Historians to preserve, conserve, and record the histories of their local churches. This two-fold purpose is to be carried out in conjunction with the Archives & History Commissions of the Ohio Annual Conferences within the state, with overall guidance provided by the General Commission on Archives & History. To carry out this purpose, the Society shall engage in the following activities: 

  1. Plan and execute an Annual Meeting & Convocation and other workshops that provide opportunities for the study of Ohio United Methodist history and training for Local Church Historians in such skills as conservation of materials, records retention, record description, writing local church history, doing oral history, telling the church story electronically, planning local church anniversary celebrations, and other workshops as deemed appropriate.
  2. Publish a periodic newsletter and maintain a Society website.
  3. Work with the Ohio Annual Conference Archives & History Commissions and the archivist of the Archives of Ohio United Methodism to locate potential materials for the Archives.
  4. Encourage churches and Local Church Historians to utilize the Archives of Ohio United Methodism as a source of United Methodist history within the state.
  5. In conjunction with the Ohio Annual Conference Archives & History Commissions, encourage the preservation of sites within the state that have relevance to the history of The United Methodist Church.
  6. Develop and promote interest in the history of the denomination within the various local churches, districts, and denominations.
  7. Promote and enable research, writing and publication of materials that tell the Ohio United Methodist story.
  8. Publish and periodically update the United Methodist Historic Places in Ohio booklet.
  9. Promote observance of denominational, conference and local church anniversaries and other significant events.
  10. Reward excellent work created by Local Church Historians (Historian of the Year Award).
  11. Provide resources to accomplish items 1-10, or secure funding from outside sources.
SECTION 1.  Members

Members of the Society are persons who have paid annual dues.  Upon payment of dues, they shall be considered members in good standing for the purposes of carrying on the day-to-day business, elections of officers, and the appointment of Committees of the Society. Member benefits include receipt of the Society newsletter and a special membership rate for Annual Meeting & Convocation registration. Membership is open to all Local Church Historians and persons interested in the history of Ohio United Methodism.

SECTION 2.  Dues

Annual dues are for the calendar year and are determined by the Society at the Annual Meeting & Convocation, upon recommendation of the Executive Committee. Students (high school, college, or graduate) may join for a reduced rate, also determined by the Society at the Annual Meeting & Convocation. 


SECTION 3.  Life Memberships 

  1. Individual persons may purchase Life Memberships. Churches or organizations may purchase Life Memberships for a particular individual, but that membership is not transferable.
  2. The fee for a Life Membership is determined by the Society at its Annual Meeting & Convocation, on recommendation of the Executive Committee.
  3. Life Memberships may be paid in one lump sum, or in four equal payments over a one year period.
  4. Funds received from Life Memberships shall be placed on deposit as “Endowment Funds.” Accumulated interest is spent at the direction of the Executive Committee.
  5. Benefits of Life Membership include:

1.     Certificate awarded by the Society

2.      Receipt of the Society newsletter for life

3.    Exemption from payment of annual membership dues. However, payment of registration and other fees for the Annual Meeting & Convocation or other Society activities is required.

4.      Life Member’s name shall be published in the next issue of the Society newsletter

5.      Life Member’s name shall be listed on the Society website in perpetuity   


SECTION 4.  Memorial Gifts 
  1. Individual persons, churches, or other organizations may donate Memorial Gifts to honor a loved one or memorialize an event. Memorial Gifts do not entitle either the donor or the memorialized individual (presumably deceased) to exemption from annual dues.
  2. Memorial Gifts can be given for any amount at any time.
  3. Funds received from Memorial Gifts shall be placed on deposit as “Endowment Funds.” Accumulated interest is spent at the direction of the Executive Committee.
  4. Memorial Gifts equivalent to or more than the current Life Membership fee shall be acknowledged in the Society newsletter and the Society website. 
SECTION 5.  Officers 
  1. The Officers of the Society shall consist of: President, Vice President (President Elect), Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, Newsletter Editor, and Webmaster. The offices shall be balanced among the Ohio Annual Conferences, with the Vice-President (President Elect) alternating each year among the Ohio Annual Conferences. If a Newsletter Editor or Webmaster cannot be found within the Society membership, a suitable candidate will be selected by the Executive Committee.
  2. Mid-year vacancies are to be filled by the Executive Committee, keeping balance among the Annual Conferences.
  3. The Executive Committee shall consist of all of the above officers plus the following, all having voice and vote:

               1. Immediate Past President.

               2. Chairpersons of the Ohio Annual Conference Archives & History Commissions.

               3. Archivist of the Archives of Ohio United Methodism.       

               4. Conference Historians of the Ohio Annual Conferences.

  1. Nominating Committee – The Chairpersons of the Ohio Annual Conference Archives & History Commissions, in consultation with the President of the Society, shall appoint two (2) members to act as a Nominating Committee prior to the Annual Meeting & Convocation. Nominees for the Vice President (President Elect) position shall be put forth by the appropriate Ohio Annual Conference Archives & History Commission (with regard to rotation of presidency among the Ohio Annual Conferences).
  2.  Elections shall be held at the Annual Meeting & Convocation during the business meeting, and elected officers shall be inducted at the end of the meeting. 

SECTION 1. The Management of this Society shall be invested in the Executive Committee. 

SECTION 2. The operating budget of the Society shall be prepared by the Treasurer of the Society in consultation with the Executive Committee at the fall meeting.

SECTION 3. The Executive Committee shall regulate its own meetings, and fill all vacancies among the several offices.  

SECTION 4. The Executive Committee shall have authority whenever it is judged expedient, to issue any publication, provided sufficient patronage and means be obtained to defray cost of such publications. 

SECTION 5.  Responsibilities of the Executive Committee are as follows: 

  1. Ensure that the purposes of the Society as delineated in ARTICLE III are met.
  2. There shall be a periodical newsletter sent to each member of the Society.
  3. The Society shall recognize at its Annual Meeting & Convocation, a Historian of the Year, from each of the Ohio Annual Conferences, and award a plaque to each. The winners of Historian of the Year shall be selected by each of the Ohio Archives & History Commissions. If a Commission chooses to have more than one Historian of the Year or an “Award of Merit”, the cost of extra plaques shall be funded by the Commission, not the Society.
  4. The Society shall recognize significant local church anniversaries at its Annual Meeting & Convocation by awarding certificates to each congregation. Anniversaries shall be solicited by Chairpersons of the Ohio Annual Conference Archives & History Commissions.
  5. Each Life Member shall be awarded a certificate.
  6. There shall be a Society website.
  7. The Executive Committee shall provide a job description for each of the elected offices.
  8. The Executive Committee shall fill officer vacancies.

SECTION 1. The Annual Meeting of the Society, to conduct the necessary business of the Society, shall be held on a Saturday in April. The time and place of this meeting shall be determined by the Executive Committee, and every attempt shall be made to alternate the location among the Ohio Annual Conferences. The business of this meeting shall include: 

  1. A written report by the President of the activities of the Society during the previous year.
  2. A statement of the financial condition of the Society by the Treasurer.
  3. The election and induction of officers.
  4. Announcement of the appointment of any necessary committees.

SECTION 2.  In addition to the annual business meeting, workshops for the purpose of “hands-on” resources and methodology for Local Church Historians shall be presented. There may be a theme for each meeting, with a plenary speaker relevant to the theme. 


SECTION 3.  This Constitution and By-Laws may be altered or amended by the Society at any regular Annual Meeting by a vote of two-thirds of the members present. Members shall receive a copy of proposed changes at least ten (10) days prior to the meeting.