St. George's United Methodist Church records
Held at: Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church [Contact Us]235 N. Fourth Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
"Historic St. George's [in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] is the cradle of American Methodism and the denomination's oldest church building in continuous service. People called 'Methodists' have been meeting within its walls since 1769.
"Francis Asbury, first bishop of the Methodist Church, served [at St. George's] as pastor. Asbury worked tirelessly to bring Methodism to the new land, traveling 270,000 miles on horseback and ordaining more than 4,000 ministers in 35 years. He called St. George's 'The Cathedral Church of American Methodism.'...
"St. George's received the first itinerant preachers sent to America by [John] Wesley. St. George's appointed Mary Thorne as the first woman to be a class leader. The first Methodist bookstore, the first interdenominational Sunday school and the first Methodist Home Missionary Society all began here. Edward Evans of Philadelphia, an early St. George's trustee, may be the rightful possessor of the title 'First American-born itinerant.'
"St. George's licensed Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, the first African American Lay Preachers of Methodism, in 1785. Their successful evangelistic leadership drew a large community of African Americans to the church. As a result, racial tensions flared; after a time, a progressively segregated seating policy for blacks brought Allen and Jones to lead the African congregation in a historic walkout that resulted in the formation of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. However, some African Americans remained in the St. George's congregation. In 1796, many of those remaining built African Zoar Church, led by "Black Harry" Hosier, a frequent companion of Francis Asbury...
"From 100 members in 1769, the church grew to a peak membership of 3,200 in 1835, leading the congregation to excavate the basement to accommodate a Sunday school. Factories replaced houses in St. George's neighborhood after the Civil War, reducing the congregation to just 25 by 1900. The building was nearly demolished in the 1920s to make way for the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. A court battle saved the historic site [the bridge was redirected around the church], and now St. George's is known, among its many other distinctions, as 'the church that moved the bridge.'" The congregation is still active as of 2014.
Quoted text from: Historic St. George's United Methodist Church. "History of St. George's - Museum." 2011. Accessed August 1, 2014. http://www.historicstgeorges.org/museum/welcome/history.
Records of St. George's United Methodist Church, 1763-2014, include: vital records, such as births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths; records of church members and probationers; funeral records, including grave locations, burial ground certificates, and grave receipts; minutes of Trustee meetings and Quarterly Conferences; financial records, including stock and loan books, treasurer's books, receipt books, account books, cash accounts, and other ledgers; real estate and insurance records; Sunday School attendance/class books, teacher's minutes, and other related records; Teacher's Association minutes; Missionary Society minutes, collection records, and subscriptions; records from the Poor Fund; Dorca Society minutes; scrapbooks, photographs, and slides; blueprints; and other materials.
A detailed inventory of this collection is available on-site. Microfilm copies of parts of the collection can be accessed at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.
Selected materials from this collection were digitized from 2018-2021 as part of the Philadelphia Congregations Early Records project. The Philadelphia Congregations Early Records project was made possible by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from CLIR, the Council on Library and Information Resources, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Digtized materials are viewable on the PhiladelphiaCongregations.org website. Some items have been transcribed, and users are invited to contribute to the transcription effort. In addition, all of the digitized records are available in the ATLA (American Theological Library Association) Digital Library, and archival copies of the scanned images are preserved on the OPenn website at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.
Links to Digital Resources for this Collection:
- Browse all digitized items from St. George's United Methodist Church on the Philadelphia Congregations website.
- Browse all digitized items from St. George's United Methodist Church on the ATLA Digital Library.
- Browse all archival images from St. George's United Methodist Church on the OPenn website.
The Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church is located at St. George's United Methodist Church. St. George's United Methodist Church retains ownership of its archival records, although they are stored alongside the collections of the Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.
In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church directly for more information.
- Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
- This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
- Access Restrictions
Contact Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church for information about accessing this collection.