Methodist Church of South Africa Archives
Cory Library is the official custodian of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa archives.
The archives include material relating to Methodism in Southern Africa and most of the material date back from as far as the early nineteenth century and include manuscripts (letters, diaries, minutes, memoranda, press clippings, scrap-books, registers, financial, ecclesiastical and personal documents and pictorial material). These records are supplemented by individual Methodist missionaries’ diaries, other papers and printed sources that include the Wesleyan Missionary Notices, the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society’s Reports, the British and South African Conference Minutes, and the South African Christian Watchman. The archives also include microfilm records of some documents housed in the Methodist Missionary Society Archives in London.
This comprehensive collection provides the opportunity to pay tribute to those who began the collecting of the records of the Methodist Church of South Africa. The Rev. William Eveleigh and his successors in office as book stewards collected and preserved many Methodist Church’s valuable records. The death of Rev. William Eveleigh and the dispersal of his own private collection of Africana provided the incentive for the establishment of the Methodist Archives. Prof. Leslie A. Hewson (Prof. of New Testament Studies, and Warden of Livingstone House, Rhodes University at the time) was appointed archivist by the Methodist Conference of 1948, the year in which the Methodist Historical Society was established.
The collection was first housed at Livingstone House, Rhodes University. It grew to considerable size and became too large for efficient organization and use in Livingstone House, and in 1965 the Conference announced its decision to transfer the collection on loan to the Cory Library for Historical Research, Rhodes University. The loan was formalized in a Memorandum of Agreement signed between the Methodist Church of Southern Africa - and Rhodes University, whereby the church's records were placed on loan with the University.
Currently, the Methodist archives provide a large and comprehensive collection illustrating the work and history of the Methodist Church in Southern Africa, covering not only South Africa but also Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia.