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African-American Religious Institutions

ALLEN CHAPEL AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH. Collection, 1885-1890. BV 2337. One bound volume. No collection guide available. The collection contains the minutes from the quarterly conferences of Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Indianapolis during the late 19th century. The minutes reveal information about the institution’s activities, including Sunday School attendance, membership and general church concerns.

BETHEL A.M.E. (INDIANAPOLIS, IND.). Sunday School Records,1892. SC 1438. One folder. Collection guide online. Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1836, and until 1866, was the only church of its denomination in Indianapolis. It has had a number of buildings on its site just west of the Central Canal on Vermont Street. In 1857, Bethel bought the original building of Christ Church (Episcopal), which had just built its present sanctuary; that building, moved from the Circle, was burned in 1862. The main portion of the present structure was put up in 1867-1869; a tower and an east-west gable were added in 1894, and a three-story false facade in 1973. This collection consists of one bound volume, "S.S. Secretary's Record," containing Sunday School attendance records and some minutes.

DOWNEY, VIRTEA. Papers, 1913-1985 (bulk 1970-1985). M 0511, BV 2497-2498, OM333. One box, two volumes, one oversize folder. Black Women in the Middle West Project. Collection guide online. Virtea Maletta Washington Downey (1913-), the daughter of Fred and Anna Pauline Washington, was born in Indianapolis. She married Cassie Downey, an electrical engineer from Earl, Ark.. Two children were born of this union. Downey completed studies at Tennessee State Normal College, Lewis Business College and Butler University. In 1981, she ended a 25-year teaching career with the Indianapolis Public Schools. She, along with fellow schoolteacher Shirley Herd, under the auspices of the National Council of Negro Women Inc., Indianapolis Section, helped to launch the Black Women in the Middle West Project. As part of the project, Downey, Church Relations Consultant, gathered materials from various churches in Indianapolis. The bulk of the collection includes church histories, anniversary programs and newspaper clippings.

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, BRIDGEPORT, INDIANA. Collection, 1901-1984. M 0719. One box. Collection guide in library. Church tradition maintains that First Baptist Church of Bridgeport (Wayne Township, Marion County) was founded during the Civil War period. Early on the church was known as the White Lick Colored Baptist Church. According to the Chain of Title and Encumbrances, the trustees of the church purchased real estate in Lot 2, Block 3, of the Barlow addition of Bridgeport in 1886. The property location is immediately north of the National Road (U.S. Highway 40) at 8730 W. Washington St. The collection includes a church history, correspondence, minutes, financial records and news clippings.

GOEBES, ALAN. “The History of the Second Baptist Church” (1983). SC 1889. One folder. No collection guide available. Second Baptist Church, reputed to be the pioneer church serving African-American Baptists in Indianapolis, was founded in 1846. This history of the church includes a short bibliography. Also contained in the collection are obituaries of church members and ministers.

HARRIS, RAYMOND. “History of Bethel Church” (1974). SC 1624. One folder. No collection guide. Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Richmond has been designated a historic monument on the National Register of Historic Places. Church member Raymond Harris gives an overview of the institution’s history beginning with its 1836 founding.

JETT, ALTA M. Papers, 1916-1986. M 0495, BV 2686. Three boxes, one bound volume. Black Women in the Middle West Project. Collection guide online. Alta Boatright Jett (1920-) was born in Lancaster, Ky. While a young girl, she moved to Richmond. She attended Earlham College and Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. Later she married Richard E. Jett. During the 1930s, Jett worked as a domestic servant. At the outbreak of World War II, she worked in a factory, and later she worked in a credit office. Jett has been a longtime and active member of Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Richmond. Her collection reflects Jett’s work with the Black Women in the Middle West Project. She collected several items related to churches in Richmond. There are materials pertaining to Missionary Baptist, Mount Moriah Baptist, Second Baptist and Bethel African Methodist Episcopal churches. The collection also includes Jett’s personal correspondence and newspaper clippings. Additionally, there are materials related to the Mary B. Talbert Club, the Townsend Community Center, and the Margaret Smith and Mary Hill nursing homes.

NEW BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH (INDIANAPOLIS, IND.). Records, 1907-1986 (bulk 1957-1980). M 0450. Three boxes. Collection guide online. The New Bethel Baptist Church was organized in July 1875. Although the church has had three different addresses, it has remained on the same property since it first appeared in an Indianapolis city directory in 1878. Its current address is 1535 Dr. Andrew J. Brown St. New Bethel Baptist Church has had several pastors, many of whom have held long tenures. Pastors include Jacob Reiner, G. Smith, Nathaniel A. Seymour, George Baltimore, J.O. Clark and F. Benjamin Davis. The collection contains church records that mostly date between the late 1950s and 1980. There are program booklets from church anniversaries, newsletters and bulletins. The bulk of the collection pertains to other Baptist institutions or organizations to which New Bethel Baptist Church has an affiliation. There are materials related to the Baptist Ministerial and Deacon’s Alliance, Indiana Missionary Baptist State Convention, Central Baptist Seminary and the National Publishing Board.

SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH (INDIANAPOLIS, IND.). Records, 1912-1985 ; bulk 1937-1967. M 0524, OM 259. One box, two oversize folders. Collection guide online. Second Baptist Church was established in Indianapolis in 1846. The church continues to exist at 2302 W. Washington St. Moses Broyles, pastor of the church from 1857 to 1882, recounts the institution’s first 30 years in The History of Second Baptist Church. (This book is available at the Indiana State Library.) The collection includes a 21-page history of the church written by a member. The collection also contains a minute book of the Deacon Board (1932-1938) and a Pastor and Deacons in Conference minute book (1961-1967). Several copies of the Second Baptist Herald and a copy of the District Informer are in the collection. The former contains information about the church and its activities, a monthly message written by the pastor, and advertisements of local businesses. The latter was apparently the news organ of some local Baptist churches.