Early Methodists and Their Books

Originally exhibited August 20–December 14, 2012
The Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries


Among John Wesley’s most enduring gifts to the early Methodist movement was his constant encouragement to make use of a great variety of beneficial reading materials. Through his published advertisements for newly available Methodist titles and specific reading recommendations made in his personal letters, Wesley created a community that shared a common bond in affordable, easily-read, and useful books intended for education and worship.

The fifty items in this exhibition reveal how readers in the first century of the Methodist tradition (c. 1739–1839) acquired, read, inscribed, annotated, and treasured their books. Selected from Bridwell Library’s Special Collections, these volumes include several owned by John Wesley or his brother Charles Wesley, original manuscripts used by early Methodist ministers, and numerous books and hymnals inscribed with the names of everyday Methodist pioneers, male and female, in England and America.


Bridwell Library Special Collections