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M-515 Pleasant Grove Methodist Class Meeting Register, 1841-1857

ABSTRACT: Manuscript meeting register from a Methodist church in Pleasant Grove, a small rural hamlet in south central Missouri that no longer exists today. Front cover reads “Henton’s Class”.

SCOPE: The register provides information on the congregation and its members, including African Americans, in the two decades preceding the Civil War, from 1841 to 1857. Members are listed for each year, along with their marital status, whether they have been baptized, their meeting attendance, and how much they have paid toward the “quarterage” tithe. There are three shorter, less-detailed lists of “coloured members” as well. Each year also notes the class leader, and the ministers and preachers for the circuit who served the congregation that year, since Pleasant Grove was not large enough to support a permanent pastor.

EXTENT: One 86 page meeting register.

HISTORY: The “class meeting” appeared early in the development of Methodism as a crucial tool for members to watch over and encourage one another in their faith. John Wesley, the principle founder of the Methodist movement, believed the class meeting was so important, it became a requirement for membership in a Methodist congregation. The meeting system, along with its linkage to quarterly pastoral visits (referred to in register as “quarterage” tithes), was a way to ensure only those members who met the high standards of the movement could actively participate. The Methodist meetings included men and women of all ages and levels of social standing and, as noted above, African American members and people of color. The meeting system waned during the 19th century and phased out entirely in the early 20th century.

ACCESS: This collection can be viewed on-site in the Rare Book and Manuscripts Reading Room. Some of the material may be photocopied, digitally scanned or photographed, subject to condition and other access restrictions. Information on conducting research with the archival collections of the Library, including current building hours and reading room policies, can be found on our Research page . The St. Louis Mercantile Library is located on levels one and two of the Thomas Jefferson Library building on the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ north campus. 

Preferred Citation note: The preferred citation for this collection is “From the Special Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri – St. Louis."