The Rev. Dr. Frank Baker (1910–99), a native of Hull, England, joined the faculty of Duke University in 1960 and assumed the role of general editor of the newly-launched Wesley Works Editorial Project. Over the next twenty years Baker established himself as a premier scholar of the Wesleyan traditions, and Duke Divinity School as a leading center for such study. On his retirement in December 1979 the Divinity School announced the founding of The Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition, as a means of continuing the scholarly study of historical and contemporary Wesleyan traditions that Baker emulated.

On his retirement Baker gifted to the libraries of Duke University both his unparalleled personal collection of Wesley and Methodist primary materials (The Frank Baker Collection of Wesleyana and British Methodism) and his major body of research items related to Wesley and Methodist Studies (The Frank Baker Papers). These bequests remain the heart of Duke University’s Wesleyan research collection—a collection that contains the second largest number of Wesley publications in the world and has more than 50 titles representing the only known copies.

In addition to his work as a teacher, editor, and bibliophile, Frank Baker published over 250 items focused on Wesley and Methodist Studies. To mark the 40th anniversary of his retirement from Duke, The Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition now provides free online access to nearly all of these materials.