Contact: Jenni Smith
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650

Nov. 8, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- Bridwell Library at SMU's Perkins School of Theology has organized a special exhibit to celebrate the 300th anniversary of John Wesley's birth.

"Wesley in America" will open in the Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries on Feb. 3, 2003. The exhibition opening will be held in conjunction with the theology school's Ministers Week, Feb. 3-5.

Bridwell Library has made several notable acquisitions in the area of Wesley studies in recent years, including one of two existing copies of John Wesley's will, an original score by Samuel Sebastian Wesley, and the extremely significant lost journal passages of John Wesley from 1749-1751.

Rare materials from Bridwell's vault will be featured in the exhibit, as well as documents, engravings, and paintings on loan from The British Methodist Archives, Drew University, Duke University, Wesleyan University and The John Rylands University Library in Manchester, England.

Materials on exhibit will cover Wesley's ministry in Georgia (1736-1737), Whitefield and the Methodists, Wesleyan preachers in America, Wesley and the American Revolution, the growth of Methodism in the New World, the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784), tensions between Wesley and the American Methodists, Wesley's later attitudes toward Native Americans and slavery, reaction in America to Wesley's death and the subsequent influence of Wesley in the United States.

The exhibit, curated by Richard Heitzenrater and Peter Forsaith, will remain in place through April 11 and will serve as a centerpiece for Perkins' conference on Wesley's influence upon early American Methodism.

The conference, also called Wesley in America, will be April 3-5. It will feature scholars in Methodist and American history. For conference information, contact Page Thomas at (214) 768-2363 or email at

After closing at Bridwell, the exhibit will travel to Drew University and Duke University in a year-long celebration of John Wesley's birth.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Bridwell Library will publish a major catalog of "Wesley in America" with essays by the curators and a descriptive item list of the exhibition.