The Free Will Baptist Historical Collection currently holds the largest and most complete collection of Original Free Will Baptist historical materials. Please feel free to visit us, consult with our curator, and learn more about our collection!
Preservation Week is a week set aside by the American Library Association's Association of Library Collections and Technical Services to promote education on best practices in archival preservation. Many of the resources in this guide were specifically produced by ALA for Preservation Week, while others pertain more specifically to religious archives, including church and local history materials.
Moye Library at the University of Mount Olive created this guide in celebration of Preservation Week. We hope that it will help raise awareness of best practices in preservation and inform communities of resources available to assist in maintaining religious collections.
Church collections might include anything and everything relating to the history and operation of a congregation. Records, manuscripts, artifacts, and digital materials may be included in these collections. Recipes, scrapbooks, photos, newspaper clippings, and other materials are also likely to be included.
Items you might find in a congregational collection:
"Weeding." It's a word that some archivists and historians dread more than gardeners do, but it doesn't have to be a painful process. Done right, weeding a collection is the opposite of destructive. It promotes access to the collection, ease of use, and frees up storage space for future items.
Commonly Weeded Items
What do I do with weeded materials?
Often, your collection policy and/or deed of gift will have a statement about what will be done with items that are weeded from the collection, but this is not always the case. If a policy is established, you should follow that. Without an established policy, it is best to offer any discarded materials back to the donor or their next of kin. Try to make a good faith effort to do this. If this cannot be done for practical reasons, consider whether there are other institutions that may find the materials useful, if you have a right to give the material away.
Should I throw things away?
This is a personal call. Exact duplicates of existing collection materials are sometimes thrown away, particularly if a record is duplicated multiple times for administrative purposes. Damaged materials that are in a condition that cannot be repaired or that present a threat to other items are often discarded.
If you choose to dispose of items, be sure to shred any items containing personal, financial, or other sensitive information.
Although archival practice should be objective and unbiased, one's reasons for being interested in religious collections may be deeply personal. Someone may feel called to preserve the religious heritage of themselves or others due to a personal connection to the material, a devotion to the faith, or as a means of providing access to lesser-known faith materials. Perhaps, you are interested in preserving the records of your home church or of your family's religious heritage. Personal motivation can act as a sustaining force in difficult circumstances, particularly when facing damaged records, limited resources, and an overwhelming amount of information. It is important that personal motivation remain a sustaining force, rather than a driving one, in order to ensure that the most complete, equitable, and accurate collection be made available to those who are interested in the history.
Rules and Regulations:
Consider the governing body of your religious denomination, if one exists. Some independent churches will not have this or will only be loosely related to an original founding body. Other denominations and religious traditions will be more stringent in their guidelines and may have specific criteria for record retention and maintenance.
The largest and most complete collection of historical materials pertaining to the Original Free Will Baptist Church is held in The Free Will Baptist Historical Collection at the University of Mount Olive.