The Northern Province Archives is running out of room. Today, it is near capacity and its ability to continue to receive, preserve and create accessibility to the collections and records could become compromised in the relatively near future.
Fortunately, the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem was awarded a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for movable shelving in our main vault earlier this year. This matching grant will allow the Archives to expand its storage capacity by 50% in its main vault.
This expansion, at current rates of utilization, allows for the care of our records and invaluable collection into the future for the next 35 years, without any construction or expansion of the vault space. Although it is a costly project, it is the most efficient means to expand our Archives for the future needs of the greater Moravian Church.
A two-year effort
This grant approval resulted from the efforts of our Archives’ staff over a two-year period. Upon the first submission, the grant was not approved because of the great number of applications. A subsequent application made the following year resulted in a matching grant being awarded for the project in 2012 to early 2013.
The Archive does important work; collecting, preserving and organizing the records, collections, art and written history of the Moravian Church, while making all of this accessible to our churches, members, educators and scholars. This award from the National Endowment for the Humanities is a recognition, on a national level, of how important it is to preserve and maintain the history and heritage of the Moravian Church.
The grant that the Archives received is a matching grant. The total cost of the project is $297,000, and the grant will cover $148,500 of the expense. The Bethlehem Archives must match this grant with $148,500 of its own fundraising.
We will meet this goal, but we will need the help of Moravians from around the Northern Province. It is essential for the Moravian Archives, our churches and individual members to fully utilize the resource of this grant, while it is available. Fulfilling this challenge will allow us to preserve our past, protect the priceless collection of our church for decades to come and improve accessibility to the history and heritage of the Moravian Church.
The vault expansion with movable shelving is scheduled for completion in June. Staff and volunteers will start moving contents out of the vault and into the gallery and the reading room in January. Because these spaces will be used for storage, the reading room will be closed for the duration of the project. No lectures or other programs can be scheduled during the first six months of 2013; most volunteer projects will continue. We hope to reopen after the end of the German Script Course ends in June.
Support for the annual budget of the Moravian Archives comes from the Provincial Elders’ Conference of the Moravian Church, Northern Province; Bethlehem Area Moravians; and the generous supporters, volunteers and Friends of the Archives. As always, the Archives’ staff and Board of Directors wish to express their gratitude and thanks for their support of our mission to preserve, maintain and provide access to the history and heritage of our Moravian Church.
Contributions to help meet the matching grant can be made to: The Moravian Archives, 41 West Locust Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018-2757 and please note “Vault Project”.
For more information on the Moravian Archives or this project, call 610.866.3255 or visit our website www.moravianchurcharchives.org
Michael Long is a member of Edgeboro Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa. and is president of the Northern Province Moravian Archives Board of Directors. In top photo, ew movable shelving like this will soon be installed at the Northern Province Archives.