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Periodicals (including newspapers) abounded in Methodism, 142 titles being listed in the Checklist of British Methodist Periodicals by E.A. Rose (1981) - though this total includes the annual Minutes of Conference and ranges from newspapers to college magazines such as The Old Ship from Didsbury theological college. The Checklist indicates changes of title and the holdings of various libraries and other locations.

There are entries in this Dictionary for the major connexional Magazines and for the following newspapers:

Wesleyan: The Watchman; The Wesleyan Times; The Methodist Recorder; The Methodist Times

Primitive Methodist: The Primitive Methodist Leader; The Primitive Methodist World

United Methodist Free Churches: The Free Methodist

United Methodist: The United Methodist

Methodist: The Methodist Times and Leader; The Methodist Recorder

The Methodist, a Journal of Christian Life and Light, which appeared between 1874 and 1884, declared itself a mouthpiece of 'Unsectarian Education' and 'Religious Equality'.

One feature of all Methodist periodical publishing was the inclusion of magazines for children and young people, beginning with the WM Child's Magazine and Sunday School Scholar's Companion in 1824. All other branches of Methodism followed, though in many cases copies are now very rare.

Periodicals, particularly the connexional magazines, are valuable historical sources, but their provenance needs to be understood. Whereas the Magazines were the official publications of the Connexions and followed the 'connexional view', the WM, PM, and Methodist newspapers were independent commercial ventures. (The Free Methodist was an exception, as an official UMFC Book Room venture.) As such, they were tolerated by the connexions, rather than supported by them. Hence they were rather more independent in their views. Furthermore, being weekly, they offered far better coverage of the Conferences etc. For a short period in the 1880s, the Methodist Recorder even printed daily issues during the WM Conference.

The advent of newspapers in WM, PM and UMFC circles prompted a change in the connexional magazines, with many obituaries and much local church news transferring to the newspapers. The MNC and BC denominations never had newspapers, although the BC printer, Samuel Thorne, also edited and printed the weekly Western Herald as a local newspaper in Shebbear and Plymouth from 1836 to 1838. The MNC and BC Magazines continued to carry local and personal information to the end.

Entry written by: CCS
Category: Subject

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