Congratulations to Mike Weaver, who correctly answered the question in my jet-lagged post about my trip to the John Rylands University Library in Manchester, England. The Rylands contains an amazing amount of material on early Methodism, much of which is largely unexplored. I was at the Rylands for almost a month, reading furiously from open till close every day, and I still did not read everything that I could have. (Thanks to the expert guidance and direction of Dr. Gareth Lloyd, I was able to look at all of the material that is most relevant to my dissertation.)
My research in Manchester focused primarily on unpublished manuscript letters and diaries of early Methodists. I found more material than I expected and I am very excited to dig into the more than 2,500 photos I took and the more than 100 pages of notes I took on my computer. I am really looking forward to mining this material and getting into the next chapter of my dissertation.
Returning to the United States has been a bit more jarring than I expected, mostly because my children do not seem to adjust time changes as easily as my wife and I do. (There is something very surreal and painful about having your two and a half year old wake you up at 4:30 am, because she is convinced it is well after the time we normally get up.) Happily, both kids are now sleeping through the night when it is actually night-time again.
Thankfully I am starting to catch my breath, because this weekend I am heading to the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. I am presenting a paper in the Wesleyan Studies section, which this year is focused on Methodism and the Civil Rights Movement. My paper, “In the Shadows of Segregation: Methodist Seminaries and the Civil Rights Movement”, explores the connection of two Methodist seminaries to the Civil Rights Movement (Perkins School of Theology at S.M.U. and Boston University School of Theology). I thoroughly enjoyed the research I did for this paper. In particular, I was able to interview several people who were students or faculty at these two institutions about their involvement. Among the people I interviewed, one that was particularly significant to me was speaking with James V. Lyles, who was one of five African-American students who integrated Perkins School of Theology in 1952.
So, there you have a brief snapshot of where I have been and where I am going. I do have several blog posts percolating in my mind. I am looking forward to writing them and continuing to grow and be challenged by your comments. Thank you for staying tuned!