|Holdings and Acquisition Policy
The acquisition policy of the Archives derives from its canonical mandate to document the Church’s official and institutional life and other historical expressions of the Church as a community of faith and a people called to serve. Its mission has two primary purposes: (1) to identify, collect and preserve records of enduring value to the Church; and (2) to be a useful information service to its leadership, its members, and to the general public. The Archives includes records that are both historical and contemporary in time. The collections are gathered to support decision making, historical research, education in ministry, and communication. The holdings are representations of the Church’s institutional memory. They shed new light on transformations in structure, process, and program as the Church responds to its missionary calling from age to age. The Archives develops its holdings as a resource for teaching and evangelism. It celebrates the cultural heritage of the Episcopal Church and the full diversity of its members.
The Archives is responsible for implementing a program of archives and records administration for national Church institutions and for documenting the Episcopal Church by gathering the records and memorabilia of the life and work of the Church. (Canon I.5.1) The Archives’ acquisitions strategy is to document both the formal and informal areas of Church life in order to gain a more complete historical record. It actively acquires records produced in the course of official business by the General Convention and the national Church's corporate bodies. These official records are strengthened by documentation on individual members, including the private papers of individuals, who are exemplars of leadership, witness, or profound ministry. Other sources are solicited to enrich the official transcript and include such forms as audio recordings, pictorial representations, circulated statements, electronic communication, artifacts, and memorabilia.
The Archives actively acquires records that document the defining activities of Church life: domestic and world mission, Christian teaching and education, liturgy and worship, social relations and advocacy, evangelism, lay and clerical leadership and models of ministry, administration and stewardship, ecumenical partnerships, spirituality, community building, and the Church in public affairs. In some cases, the Archives may attempt a comprehensive gathering of primary and original secondary materials, drawing on a variety of sources. This approach is particularly useful in those cases where an historical movement can be traced to many sources and outlets, such as the Archives’ documentation on liturgical reform and religious education curricula. In other cases, source materials are rare or scattered. Here, the Archives will work towards capturing the best representative sources, which is the case with papers of minority groups and documentation on lay leadership. Equally important to the Archives is the archives of those entities that are the principle elements of Church life: the dioceses, parishes, provinces, related agencies, and affiliated networks. The Archives advises and supports these entities in the collection and preservation of their archives and records. Local resources are frequently insufficient, however, to bear the costs and locate the expertise for preserving these archives. The national Church Archives will support the local Church as a repository for the safekeeping of historical records.
The Archives of the Episcopal Church operates as an official agency of the General Convention and as such it carries out a mission to document the variety of Anglican experiences without partiality or favor. It holds in regard all those who seek access to the past whether to promote an informed institutional perspective, to fulfill an individual research interest, or to advance an appreciation of the historical dimension of the Church's mission. The Archives endeavors to work with related Church bodies such as seminaries and historical societies to support regional, local, and organizational collections of archival material not directly related to the national Church field.
Documentation Policy and Holdings Profile
The Episcopal Church Canons specifically name the Archives as the official repository for the archival records created by the General Convention, the Executive Council, and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. The Archives is charged with documenting those aspects of the life of the Church that will further an understanding of its historical dimension (see Canon I.5.1).
|General Convention and its officers
||The General Convention
The General Convention is understood to include the deputies and bishops in Session, the executive secretariate of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, the officers of General Convention including the presiding officers, the treasurer, the registrar of ordinations, the recorder of ordinations, and other official agents and appointed representatives.
|Bodies appointed by the General Convention
||Authorized bodies that are empowered by the General Convention in canon law are also documented in the holdings. These include all committees, commissions, boards and agencies as well as the judicial proceedings of Boards of Inquiry, and ecclesiastical courts for the trial of a bishop and the courts of appeal.
|Official agencies authorized by the General Convention
||Certain official agencies are recognized in the Canons as operating independently for purposes of carrying out special duties of the Church in a specific area of accountability. These are separately incorporated bodies such as the Church Pension Fund (see Canon I.8), the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church, and the General Theological Seminary. The Archives acknowledges the educational mission of the Seminaries and serves as the archives of the Historical Society. Documentation on the Church Pension Fund is a complex matter due to the organization’s size and a tradition of autonomy that have inhibited a collaborative relationship. The relationship is of continuing and priority concern to the Archives because of the Fund’s central role in documenting the ordained ministry as Recorder of Ordinations, a history of publication in core liturgical and educational works, and a sustained record of stewardship for the material assets of the Episcopal Church in the United States.
|Individuals in service to the General Convention
The House of Bishops
||Many individuals who serve the General Convention do so in a voluntary capacity. The Archives is primarily concerned to document the official activities of these individuals in relation to the life of the Church. On occasion, however, participation in a General Convention activity is a manifestation of a larger commitment to the Church and the community. In these instances of leadership, the Archives attempts to document a fuller biographical record. The Archives actively acquires the records of individual bishops and shall not refuse the offer of historical papers from any active or retired member of the House of Bishops provided that an attempt is first made to secure custody of official diocesan records with the appropriate jurisdictional body.
|The Dioceses of the Church
||The constituent elements of the General Convention are the Dioceses and Provinces who are represented therein and who derive their jurisdictional legitimacy through the canonical authority of the General Convention (see Constitution Art. 1). The Archives collects the central document of the Dioceses in the annual journals of diocesan convention and supplements these with other official statements and publications, especially the news journal of record. The Archives consults with Dioceses to establish local archival repositories and to prevent the permanent alienation of records from the custody of the Church. Where local resources do not permit, the Archives will accept records for temporary or permanent deposit (see GC Resolution 1994-A011). The Archives will also become custodian of the records of any diocese that shall be disestablished by the General Convention. The Archives will actively collect security copies of historically valuable diocesan records for purposes of preservation and access.
||The Archives will be the repository for the historical records of the nine Provinces of the Episcopal Church.
|Records of congregations
||Documentation on congregations of the Episcopal Church shall be gathered for purposes of preserving vital information, securing historical writings and research, and documenting extraordinary instances of local mission and ministry. The Archives shall not refuse the deposit of congregational archives that are endangered by loss, damage or destruction. The Archives will consult with local congregations to establish safe and secure storage for archival materials within the parish grounds or elsewhere through a custodial relationship that does not require the alienation of the records from parish custody.
|The board of directors and its officers
||The Executive Council
The Executive Council is the board of directors of the Corporation (the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society) and the policy making authority accountable to the General Convention for the business and mission of the national Church. The records of the Executive Council are deposited in the Archives, which is also responsible for organizing and indexing them for public access. Records of the Executive Council include all appointed committees and officers of the Council, including the president or presiding bishop, the treasurer, the secretary, and other appointed staff (see Canon I.).
||The Archives also documents special programs funded or authorized by the Executive Council but not coordinated by the staff of the corporation. These include such contemporary entities or programs as Forward Movement Publications, the Women of the Church, Jubilee Ministry, and Partnership in Mission.
|National Church employees, agents, and consultants
||The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the PECUSA (DFMS)
The DFMS is the corporate body that operates the business and program of the national Church. It is accountable to the General Convention and its board of directors is the Executive Council. Its membership is every baptized member of The Episcopal Church. The Archives is the repository for the historical archives of the DFMS and has management responsibility for the current records of the DFMS. The records include documentation created by DFMS staff in the Episcopal Church Center and its field branches, special agents and officers, consultants, and others whose contractual responsibilities include a recorded work product.
|Missionaries of the Episcopal Church
The Anglican Communion
||The missionary work of the national Church in foreign lands is an extension of the DFMS. Documentation on this central activity includes gathering personnel records as well as the personal papers of individual missionaries, published records of jurisdictions in partnership with the national Church, publications and public statements of the Anglican Communion, including the ACC and the Lambeth Conference, and other instruments of teaching that arise from within the Communion.
|Models of lay and clerical leadership
||The Archives documents the lives of individual Episcopalians whose contributions to the Church represent models of ministry, examples of extraordinary witness, or whose life work offers an enduring contribution to the Church’s teaching.
|Diversity and historical legitimacy
||The role of minorities, women and other groups who have historically found their voice on the margins of Church life are especially important in the acquisitions strategy of the Archives. Because their contributions have been ignored in the past, the record of their participation in the community is fragile and dispersed. Special effort is required, therefore, to document adequately the various strands of our cultural heritage. The perception of legitimacy and integrity of the Archives as an historical repository hinges on our commitment to capture the full diversity of our experience.
|Episcopal Church organizations of national significance
||The Archives acquires the records of Episcopal Church organizations that have a national scope or whose impact is of national significance. These organizations are involved in a variety of liturgical, fellowship, mission, advocacy and social service vocations. They include, for example, the archives of such groups as the Order of the Holy Cross, the Associated Parishes, The Witness Inc., Integrity Inc., the North Conway Institute, and the Episcopal Radio and TV Foundation. Church-wide organizations and networks add depth to our understanding of the Church as a community in the process of dynamic change.
||“To further the historical dimension of the mission of the Church”
The holdings of the Archives are augmented by collections that originate from a variety of informal settings and relationships with donors. They include published or printed materials that are gathered piecemeal through distribution systems, or reconstructed from disparate sources. In some cases (e.g., the Prayer Book and Liturgy Collection), the Archives attempts to preserve an aspect of the Church’s material or intellectual culture. The Archives also actively documents the Episcopal publishing record as a valuable reference tool of primary documents (i.e., the Published Documents Collection). The Archives supplements its primary source material with a select library of significant publications on Church history, on critical topics, or authored by significant leaders. Photographs, works of art, artifacts and occasional memorabilia expand the Archives' capacity to teach through exhibit and publication. The special collections for which the Archives acquires new material are principally:
The Prayer Book and Liturgy Collection
Published Documents Collection
Audio, Pictorial, and Visual Collections
Supporting Library Collection
Religious Education Curricula Collection
|Records not acquired
||Records Normally Outside the Acquisition Policy of the Archives
The Archives is authorized to acquire records and other materials that specifically document the life and work of the Episcopal Church. It does not accept records that are not directly related to the Episcopal Church unless they are integral to the understanding of how the Church brings its message and influence to bear on other areas of society.
|Seminaries, schools, and local organizationsFaculty papers
||The Archives does not attempt to acquire the archives of affiliated Church agencies that are normally expected to support their own archival resources. These agencies include the Seminaries of the Church (except the host archives of the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest), Church schools, and local social service organizations. Likewise, the Archives would not normally solicit the private papers of tenured faculty members provided that the school agreed to acquire and make these records accessible as part of an archival program.
||Dioceses that exercise their responsibility to manage and care for their records and archives will be supported by the national Church Archives in those ways that mutually advance the historical interests of the Episcopal Church. The Archives will not normally collect archives that belong with the local Church provided that custody, care and access can be reasonably assured as part of an archival program.
||Parochial records should remain in the legal custody of the local parish. The Archives will support congregations in their attempts to properly care for these historical resources, including finding suitable off-site storage that does not involve alienating title to the records. The Archives will also use technology to replicate key parochial history sources when the information can be condensed, authenticated, and preserved for future access.
||The Archives will not accept the secular records of notable Episcopalians who have not had visible leadership roles in Church life.
|Local Church notables
||The Archives will not normally accept for permanent deposit the private papers of individuals (lay or clerical) whose significance has been in forging a local Church identity and whose work is, therefore, better documented in the local community. The Archives will attempt to locate a suitable local repository for such material.
||The Archives does not acquire the personal records of employees. Personal records are records that are not associated with the conduct of business, the assigned or assumed duties of the employee, or the activities of a paid position or office.
||Whenever possible, the Archives will preserve the provenance and order of an archive. The Archives will normally not divide archival collections between more than one repository. It may, however, offer to a more appropriate repository material only tangentially related to the Church or the individual’s central activities. Donors occasionally act on the belief that research is made easier if their archives are placed with separate institutions by topic or activity. In keeping with established archival theory and practice, the Archives will work to keep a record group or personal papers intact.
||The Archives will not accept artifacts or works of art not suitable for exhibit.
Scope of Documentation
|Private libraries are not acquired by the Archives. The exceptions to this policy are books written by or about a donor, works of Church history, publications of the Episcopal Church or one of its agencies, reference works, and other titles that support the research collections.
The Archives acquires records in all forms and genres. The canon on the Archives defines records in terms of the fixed expressions that are created, gathered, or produced in the ordinary conduct of business or ministry (see Canon I.5.2). In the case of electronic records, the Archives acquires custody of the records in one of two ways. It may either take physical custody of records to which it can provide access locally, or it will ensure physical security, authenticity, and continuing access to electronic records held as data sets in automated record keeping systems. These systems may not be physically located in the Church’s archival repository. However, full access to the data, to documentation about the data, and to a computer system where the data is resident must be assured before the records may be considered under archival control. Electronic data that cannot be accessed or authenticated by the Archives are not considered archival record keeping systems and will not be acquired.