John Wesley was a Fellow of Lincoln College from 1726-1751 and in both his letters and published writings looked back on this period as one of great happiness and fulfilment. Indeed he continued to describe himself as a 'sometime Fellow of Lincoln College' until his death in 1791. Wesley’s connection with Lincoln is commemorated by a bronze bust donated by the Wesleyan Methodist Conference in 1926 and by the Wesley Room, a set of rooms in the front quad restored in his memory by the American Methodist Committee and opened in September 1928.
John Wesley is also remembered at Lincoln by the Wesley Collection, a collection of works by and about Wesley and relating to the early history of Wesleyan Methodism, and by items in the College Archive and the College’s historic collections. The Wesley Collection consists of over 1300 items, among which are some 700 pamphlets (largely sermons) and 234 books printed before 1800, including important early editions of Wesley’s works, works by other Methodists and volumes of hymns. The Wesley Papers in the College Archive contain both primary and secondary source material, most notably 16 original letters written by John Wesley and his walking stick. Related artefacts such as silver and portraits of Wesley still form part of College life.
Current work on the Wesley Papers in the Archive includes both cataloguing and conservation to improve access and preservation. Through generous donations from Methodist congregations in the USA, two of John Wesley’s letters have received specialist treatment at the Oxford Conservation Consortium to repair damage caused by centuries of handling and folding. The heavily-annotated printed catalogue requires additional work to comply with current international archival cataloguing standards in order to import into our new CALM cataloguing software with the aim to make it available online.
The Wesley Collection is housed in the Wesley Room and can be seen by visitors. As part of an ongoing cataloguing project, we will provide a detailed bibliographic record for each book that will be available online through the Oxford University Catalogue (SOLO). These records will enable readers to search for a specific book in the collection by author, title or subject; they will also, as importantly, provide “copy-specific” information for each book describing, for example, bindings, bookplate, inscriptions and annotations – those features of a specific copy that make it a unique artefact in the history of the College.