As many of you know, we offer frequent workshops in records management for churches, and have several resources available on our website. This is an important topic in our increasingly digital world, but it is by no means a new one.
While reorganizing some of our older materials, Rachel came across a pamphlet from 1895 devoted to this very subject. It was originally a presentation to the Central Association of Kansas, and proved so popular among the attendees that it was typeset and printed by request.
The advice and guidelines that Mr. Wheeler set out in his pamphlet aren't all that different from the ones we provide today. He, of course, is more concerned with penmanship, while we place more emphasis on backing up digital files, but the overall goals are the same. If a congregation takes good care of its records, it will run more smoothly, have a better sense of its own history, and become a more vibrant community.
These practices are especially important in Congregational churches, because they are not beholden to any denominational hierarchy, but only to their own members, past, present, and future. As Wheeler says:
"One generation may pass away from earthly activity; but if they do their service, others will rise up, and the stream of church life will flow on; adding new life, fertility, and joy. Its record too, like the stream's channel and the rippled banks, will abide, and will be merely transfered to the great Book of Remembrance..."
Here at the Congregational Library, we do our best to preserve that "Book of Remembrance" by helping active churches organize their records, and providing a safe place for collections from churches that have closed. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our archival staff. And keep an eye on this blog or our events schedule for the next workshop announcement; it will be coming soon.