Welcome to our Story
The Marston Memorial Historical Center houses material documenting the history of the Free Methodist Church and, to a lesser extent, other Methodist movements in America and early Methodism in England.
The Free Methodist Church was founded in 1860, primarily as a result of controversies within the Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The principal founder was Benjamin T. Roberts (1823-1893). Free Methodism initially grew rapidly, forming congregations across the continent. With their commitment to mission and to racial equality, early Free Methodists could be found in black and mixed congregations, on mission fields in India, Africa and China, and in rescue missions in cities across the U.S.
The collections at the Marston Historical Center emphasize the church’s Call to holy living, including not only personal piety but also redemptive action within society. Documents record the beginnings of a children’s home, a home for unwed mothers, academies and colleges, camp meetings, and the formation of new annual conferences. In addition to correspondence, pamphlets, and various manuscripts, the Center houses bound publications such as hymnals, the FM Discipline, Digest of Free Methodist Law, conference Minutes and Yearbooks showing ministerial appointments,The Earnest Christian, The Free Methodist (useful especially for biographical information) and Missionary Tidings.
The Marston Memorial Historical Center is named in honor of the late Bishop Leslie R. Marston, who was largely responsible for establishing the Center in the FM Headquarters in Winona Lake, IN, in 1969. The collection was sustained by the hard work of his daughter Evelyn Mottweiler and later overseen by Mrs. Frances Haslam when the denomination moved its headquarters to Indianapolis in 1990.
The collections housed in the Marston Memorial Historical Center are available to researchers interested in Free Methodism, missionaries, and holiness and Wesleyan streams in American history. While the Historical Center is open from 8:00 to 5:00, it is staffed part-time. Those interested in using the collections, must make an appointment with Cathy Robling. Researchers are encouraged to contact staff to determine whether our collections suit their needs.
The Historical Center also handles inquiries made by phone, in writing, or e-mail. Depending on the nature of the request, fees for research may sometimes be charged.
The policy for genealogical research is to receive payment in advance at the rate of $15.00 per hour. Generally one hour is sufficient to locate information. A written request for information, including date of death, and a check or money order made payable to Marston Memorial Historical Center can be sent to PO Box 51710, Indianapolis, Indiana 46251.
The staff are willing to photocopy material when photocopying will not harm an item. Photocopying costs 15 cents a page. Photocopies of material from the collection may be made for educational purposes as long as the Center is credited properly and such activity does not violate copyright laws.
Copyright & Permission to Use
The Historical Center does not necessarily own the copyright to material housed in its collections. It is incumbent upon the researcher to secure all copyrights before publication. Also, permission to use or photocopy material is not permission to publish it. Permission to publish must be secured from the Historical Center.
Call for Appointment:
8am to 5pm
PO Box 51710
Indianapolis, IN 46251
5235 Decatur Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46241