Documenting and archiving these times

When you think of the term “historic,” do the events of the past six months come to mind?

Some eras and events stick out in our collective memories, and the world-altering pandemic in which we live is one that we will likely not forget. Ten or 50 or 100 years from now, what will we remember about the challenging year that is/was 2020?

Thanks to social media, online video, digital images, online reflections and more, we have an astonishing chronicle of specific, personal, detailed information about what this time is like. How we save that information—and make it available for future generations —is a challenge for archivists and historians everywhere.

Our Moravian Archives in the Northern and Southern Provinces are no different.  Both Archives are developing ways to collect the extraordinary efforts in our congregations.

In the Southern Province

“We continue to pray for our churches in this stressful time,” says Eric Elliott, archivist for the Southern Province. “We are grateful to be partners with our congregations for the long-term telling of their stories.

“We’ve noticed a marked decline in records received from churches right now because with all that’s happening, record-keeping is understandably low.  Pastors are also quite aware of the different things being done to keep the church going, and many have told me they are putting aside memories of this time.

“We’re asking pastors and congregations to place photos and special remembrances of their programming during these unique days for future reference and reflection here at the Archives,” continues Eric. “We are glad to work with congregations on streamlining and making easier the submission of the records of the life of their churches.” 

Contact the Southern Province Archives by phone (336) 722-1742 or by e-mail [email protected]

In the Northern Province

The Moravian Archives in Bethlehem has begun to document its own response to the (COVID-19) pandemic via communications, images and other documents. 

The are also seeking to collect and preserve documents from the greater Moravian Church community, and encourage congregations and agencies of the Moravian Church in the Northern Province to help them document this unique time in our history.

“As the official repository of the Moravian Church Northern Province, many documents that record reactions and repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, such as communications and minutes of the church, will eventually be materials that are to be archived at the Archives,” says Kaitlin Trainor, processing archivist, Moravian Archives in Bethlehem. “However, we encourage congregations and agencies to actively document how their community is addressing the coronavirus pandemic.”

Ways in which you can record your communities’ experience include:

  • Written reflections: letters, emails, diary entries, blog posts, etc.
  • Visual materials: photographs, posters, sketches or drawings, or other creative projects
  • Any other materials which will help others in perhaps five, 50, or 150 years from now understand the moment we are currently living through.

The Archives wants to collect materials that document how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the greater Moravian Church community, not national news stories, media reports, or other types of materials that are best documented elsewhere.

To help facilitate the collection of these narratives, the Moravian Archives has created a brief survey that can be completed at any time that is accessible through our website, www.moravianchurcharchives.org.
The Moravian Archives is able to receive donations of physical materials by appointment. To arrange an appointment, please contact processing archivist, Kaitlin Trainor, at [email protected].