Until the late twentieth century there was little systematic attempt at ordering the archives and records of the Church, despite its emphasis on the need to produce circuit preaching plans, schedules and membership returns regularly. In 1955 the Conference appointed a Commission, which recognized the need for depositing local church and circuit records in local record offices rather than keeping archives in safes or sending them all to London. But the first District Archivists were not appointed until 1969.

The appointment of the first Connexional Archivist, Wesley F. Swift, in 1961 and the establishment of a Centre in Epworth House at City Road, London under the direction of an Archives and History Committee was the start of a period of extensive cataloguing and guidance in the care of archives. Under his successor John C. Bowmer, much progress was made despite limited resources, but in 1976 financial constraints led to the decision to transfer the Connexional Archives to the John Rylands University Library, Manchester. Following this move a Connexional Archives Liaison Officer replaced the Connexional Archivist.

The archives of the Methodist Missionary Society were deposited in the library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Other Methodist collections were located at Wesley College, Bristol, the New Room and other major heritage sites. With the closure of Wesley College in 2011, manuscript items eventually went to join the Methodist collection at the Rylands Library.

  • Peter B. Nockles, 'The Work of the Methodist Archives and Research Centre, John Rylands *University Library of Manchester', in Religious Archives Group: proceedings of a conference held at Wesley College, Bristol... [London, 1993]
  • Gareth Lloyd, in T&T Clark Companion to Methodism (2010), pp.369-86