Amy Smith, Communications
NASHVILLE, TN - As The United Methodist Publishing House prepares to move to a new location in the MetroCenter area of Nashville, they have been reviewing their historic collections that include hand presses, publishing equipment, and a significant library.
“As the headquarters of publishing for The United Methodist Church, The United Methodist Publishing House has over the years acquired these artifacts and books that help to connect us to our heritage as a people of faith, as a movement, as a church, and as publishing entity,” said Neil Alexander, President & Publisher of UMPH. Part of the library collection includes a noteworthy group of general books printed in various languages during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, all in various stages of disrepair. The majority of these books are part of the collection that came to UMPH from the Western Book Concern when that facility closed in 1939. These books have not been in active use at the Publishing House library because of their fragile nature and have been stored apart from the general collection.
Included are commentaries, lexicons, and multiple language Bibles as well as theological and religious history books. A sampling of titles includes:
St. Augustine, Of the City of God; with the learned comments of Io[anes] Lod[oviews] Vives. Englished by J[ohn]. H[eal]. (London: G. Eld, 1610)
William Chillingworth, The Religion of Protestants; A Safe Way to Salvation…(London: E. Cotes for Thomas Thornicroft, 1640)
A Collection of Cases and other Discourses lately written to recover Dissenters to the Church of England (London; J Basset, etc., 1694)
Louis Ellies Dupin, A Compleat Method of Studying Divinity (London: M. Smith, 1720)
King James Bible, 1611 (lacking title page)
Tertullian, Opera (Basel: Froben 1521)
The library also has a well-worn collection of eighteenth-century books and pamphlets on various topics related to John Wesley and Methodism. Included in this grouping are books and pamphlets written by John Wesley and contemporaries, including multiple sets of Wesley’s works, hymnals, and commentaries. These titles were donated and collected from the editorial libraries of Methodist and EUB publishing houses. The collection also includes books and Bibles published by the various Book Concerns since the founding of the first Book Concern in 1789.
In 1987 significant amounts of archival materials from The United Methodist Publishing House library were transferred to the General Commission on Archives and History, located on the Drew University campus in Madison, N. J. The two shipments during that year totaled nearly 85,000 pounds or 2000 cubic feet. The transfer was predominantly seventeenth- and eighteenth-century books but also contained Abingdon Press titles as well as selected rare items, including letters of John Wesley and Francis Asbury and historical artifacts from early American Methodism.
Dr. Richard Heizenrater, an Abingdon Press author, respected Wesley scholar and great friend of the Publishing House, has provided expert guidance on the significance of the titles in both collections.
The new UMPH facility, the John Dickins House (named for the very first book agent), will include a working editorial library where a representative historical collection of books and hand presses will be displayed. Other items will be transferred to libraries and archives well suited to care for and assure access to this rich treasure trove of collected works spanning the centuries.