Digitizing the Past for the Future

April 26, 2017
This story is courtesy Centenary College of Shreveport:

The Centenary College of Louisiana Archives and Special Collections has completed a collaborative project to digitize its collection of publications by the Louisiana United Methodist Women and their predecessor organizations. The digitized material includes annual reports (1884-2014) and newsletters (1963-2006) – 12,000 pages in total. Researchers can access them online, page through each volume, download complete PDFs, and search the full text versions.

“These publications contain valuable details about the activities of Methodist women, and they complement our Louisiana United Methodist online collections,” says Chris Brown, Centenary’s archivist.

The project was funded by McNeese State University’s Juliet Hardtner Women in Arts and Humanities Endowed Professorship as well as the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Commission on Archives and History. The digitization was performed by the Internet Archive’s scanning center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Centenary Archives student worker Ellen Atkinson assisted by selecting clean, complete volumes for digitization and proofing the online volumes to ensure completeness. 

"This will be a window into our past, illuminating the struggles, hardships, and the passion for mission of our foremothers” Marjorie Franklin


“The Louisiana Conference United Methodist Women digital archive at Centenary College will be a window into our past, illuminating the struggles, hardships, and the passion for mission of our foremothers,” says Marjorie Franklin, president of the Louisiana Conference United Methodist Women. “As United Methodist Women approach the 150th Anniversary of our beginning as women organized for mission, we honor and remember those women who have preceded us. Their stories inspire us to follow their example, continuing their spirit of service to God and to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We welcome the opportunity to share our history in this way.”

Funding for the project was secured by Dr. Janet Allured, professor of history and director of Women's Studies in the Department of History at McNeese State University. Allured became interested in Methodist women's history while researching her book Remapping Second-Wave Feminism:  The Long Women's Rights Movement in Louisiana, 1950-1997 (University of Georgia Press, 2016).

“I discovered that not only were Methodist women over-represented in the post-World War II women's rights movement in Louisiana, but also that a surprising number of southern Methodist women led both the United Methodist Church and the nation toward greater racial and gender equality in the decades between 1950 and 1990,” says Allured. “Yet almost no academic history focusing on southern Methodist women beyond the denomination’s merger in 1939 exists. The digitization of these records will, I hope, encourage academics both inside and outside of Louisiana to focus on the important work that Methodist women in the south were doing to ameliorate long-standing social injustices."

Additional funding was provided by the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Commission on Archives and History. Commission chair Rev. James A. Graham stresses the group’s disciplinary responsibility to promote the collection, preservation, and accessibility of historic records of the United Methodist Church.

“The work of Methodist women in Louisiana has been a guiding light in the growth of the Methodist mission,” says Graham. “Using digital technology, this project will help future generations see how women worked in mission in the past and will inspire others in the future. The digitization of Methodist women’s records of the past marks an advancement in the preservation of historical information. This process helps persons to gain access to a wider range of cultures and traditions among women in Methodism. We can now weave our records of women in the past with women of today.”

To access the new material, visit centenary.edu/archives. In the Louisiana United Methodist Archives section, see the digital collections.

For more information about the project and the works that have been digitized, contact Centenary archivist Chris Brown at 318-869-5462 or archives@centenary.edu.