Centenary Archives digitizes Louisiana Methodist newspaper, 1850-1946

SHREVEPORT, LA — The Centenary College of Louisiana Archives and Special Collections has completed a project restoring online access to nearly 100 years of a Methodist weekly newspaper, The New Orleans Christian Advocate. The online issues span 1850 to 1946 and total more than 46,000 pages of content. Researchers can now access these online, page through each volume, download a complete PDF, or search the full text version. You can access the digital collection through the Archives webpage.

"These newspapers help people explore many aspects of history – certainly Methodism, but also community news, education, travel, advertising, social customs, racial and ethnic relations, marriage announcements, obituaries, and more," explains Chris Brown '01, Centenary Archivist. Brown said the project represents years of collaboration.

In the 1960s, Centenary acquired the newspaper on microfilm from originals preserved by the J.B. Cain Archives of Mississippi Methodism at Millsaps College. Then, in 2008, Timothy Hebert, the chair of the Commission on Archives and History of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, led efforts to scan Centenary's microfilm collection. Hebert created a website to host the online issues, but the site disappeared after Hebert died in 2012. During spring 2016, Centenary Archives student workers Olivia Brignac '19 and Harrison Folse '19 assisted by proofing the digital issues to correct scanning errors and helped catalog the online volumes.

"The New Orleans Christian Advocate was an essential source for my book," says Dr. Ellen Blue, author of St. Mark's and the Social Gospel: Methodist Women and Civil Rights in New Orleans. "The best way to research Methodist women's history is to read material women wrote, but almost all of it has been discarded. Because space was devoted in every issue to the women's society, I learned not only women's names and what kinds of work they did but also how they chose to present their activities to the larger church. This information is not available in any other source."

"I am thrilled the New Orleans Christian Advocate is now online," says Debra McIntosh, the archivist at Millsaps College. "It is one of our most frequently consulted resources in the J.B. Cain Archives of Mississippi Methodism. The paper was indexed years ago by Dr. Cain for Mississippi churches and clergy names, so we consult it on an almost daily basis for Mississippi Methodist history queries. We are most grateful to Chris Brown and Centenary for posting it online. Not only will this increase our efficiency in providing research assistance, but we can now remove the original paper volumes and microfilm from access to ensure their long-term preservation. We are so pleased this new online resource opens a rich collection of information to anyone interested in Methodist history."

In the 1850s, members of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South began publishing The New Orleans Christian Advocate by partnering with other MECS conferences: Alabama (1850-1881), Arkansas (1850), Mississippi (1850-1946), Mobile (1866-1870), Montgomery (1866-1870), and North Mississippi (1883-1946).

For more information about the project and the works that have been digitized, contact Centenary Archivist Chris Brown (318.869.5462 or archives@centenary.edu).