Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CGS Program: The United Library

The Garrett Evangelical United Library in Evanston, IL is home to local and global collections of Methodist and Episcopal documents, as well as an extensive library of biblical archaeology and rare texts.  CGS visited the United Library on Saturday, and Director Dr. Lucy Chung gave us an overview of the library's history and highlighted the collections that might be interesting to those researching genealogy.  Reference librarian Kathleen Kordesh gave our group a great tour of the library's collections.  The United Library was formed when the collections of Garrett Evangelical (Methodist) and the Seabury Western (Episcopal) merged.

Its collections include 400,000 volumes and 500 journals (as well as access to Northwestern Library's collections)

Highlights Include:

Hibbard Rare Book Collection

Formally the largest collection of Egyptology, Biblical Archaeology, and Near Eastern History.  These texts were collected on behalf of Lydia Hibbard by the Hibbard Egyptian Library at Western Theological Seminary.   

Methodist Special Collection

Various sets of materials relating to Methodism around the globe from 18th century to the present. 

Keen Bible Collection

700 English versions, 225 versions in other languages.  Rare editions from 1537 and later, as well as a first edition of the King James Bible that has recently been restored and rebound by the United Library.
The Keen Bible Collection
This kind of book would have been used in the choir.

First Edition of the King James Bible

Northern Illinois Conference Archives

These archives can be helpful to genealogy researchers of folks who participated in the Methodist religion.  There is currently no archivist for this collection.  It consists records of closed churches from the geographical region of Northern Illinois, and some out of state records.  It contains Deacon records, foreign language conference news, and records of pastors from all over the world.  

Some tips for locating the records of your ancestors church:
  • If the local church still exists, it should have the records of the congregation.
  • If the church has merged, the new church will have the records.
  • If the church is closed, check the conference archives at the United Library, especially for Methodist/Episcopal.  

Other interesting Materials of Note

Mummy of a Child
The mummy was given to Lydia Hibbard as a token of gratitude for her gift and involvement in the Egyptian Library.  The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art recently did a MRI and was able to estimate her age to 5 or 6 years old by her tooth development. Embedded in the face of the mummy is a Roman encaustic painting on wood from the 1st century.

Missionary Conference Journals
Collection of journals from missionaries all over the globe.

Ezekiel Cooper Correspondence

Folios of Drawings from Napoleon's Expedition to Egypt
Drawn by architects around 1787-1800.  They spent time documenting the flora and fauna they encountered.  The style in which they drew could have potentially influenced the design elements of the Egyptian Revival Style and Oriental theatres all over the country.

Oversize Folio of Flora from Napoleon's expedition to Egypt
Folio Case containing Napoleon artists' documentation from Egypt

A big thank you to the staff at the Garrett Evangelical Library Staff for their gracious and informative tour.

If you would like to research or visit the United Library, check out:

General Commission on Archives and History

There are less than 15 seats available for the October 6th bus tour, so make your reservation today! 

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