Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

Manuscript Collections :
Synthetic Collections :

Should I Donate My Papers?

Why do we ask?

       God is at work in the lives of His people, accomplishing His will and bearing testimony to His Name. The PCA Historical Center was established in 1985 in order to preserve a record of that testimony as it is worked out in the history of the continuing Presbyterian Church. Your life is a part of that history, as you have been blessed with a position of service and leadership among His people. For a number of reasons then, your papers deserve a place among the Center's collections. 

Why would you need my papers?

       Simply put, because the Lord has placed you in positions of service and ministry within His Church. Your papers are a record of those years of service-they tell of the people you ministered to, God's blessings and provisions for His people, and the advancement of His kingdom. What God has done in and through you gives significance to your life and to your work. Thus your papers have significance and so we would like to work with you to preserve them to the blessing of future generations.

What types of materials are you interested in?

A checklist on the inside of this brochure gives a fuller list of the sorts of materials that we are interested in. Our main interest is in items that are known as primary source materials, namely correspondence, unpublished writings, diaries, journals, minutes, etc. Please keep in mind that you have every right to place viewing restrictions on the materials you donate; in this way we can work with you to protect pastoral confidences and sensitive shepherding issues wherever necessary.

I don’t think of my papers as historical – most are not that old.  Would you still want them?

Only time will tell what materials have real historical significance. For now we must preserve a wide range of materials and we employ specific guidelines to help us in this task. Papers that can seem insignificant may actually be quite unique. For instance, committee minutes and similar documents are normally produced in limited quantity, for board members only. Your donation of items like these may provide the only copies in existence. 

It seems like so much work to get my files in order, before sending them to you.

This is a common misunderstanding-you don't have to do anything other than gather them together. Actually we would prefer that you not sort or weed your files. The work of putting files in order often is enough in itself to discourage a donation. In addition, the staff of the Historical Center have been trained to discern which items are of historical value and, if you wish, we will return any items which cannot be used.

If I decide to donate my papers, what do I do next?

It is as simple as boxing up the materials and sending them to us.  First contact the Historical Center, to notify us of your intention.  We will send you a Deed of Gift, which is necessary in order to protect both you and the Historical Center. Then we will arrange for the best and most helpful way to complete the transfer of your papers. In some cases we can actually come to your home or office to work through this process with you.

What becomes of my papers once you receive them?

The processing of your papers will involve several steps:

·         They will first be placed in acid-free folders and boxes, to insure their preservation.

·         An index of your papers will then be prepared, with a copy of that index sent to you.

·         This index will be converted to HTML for posting to the Internet, with your approval.       

·         And finally, announcement of the receipt of your papers will be made in several academic and church-related journals.

Will my papers be available for anyone to use?  What types of researchers have access to the Historical Center?

The Center is open to the public and a wide range of people annually use the facilities of the Historical Center. Among those routinely using the Center are academic researchers, students, pastors, historians and genealogists, to name a few. To insure both physical and intellectual control of our collections, policies have been established that help to confirm that each patron has a legitimate reason for using the collections of the Historical Center. Thus one excellent reason for placing your papers here is to insure that they are used properly and according to your wishes. If you have other questions, we would be glad to explain these policies further.

What about sensitive matters and protecting people that may be discussed in my papers?

Archival institutions routinely provide such protection by placing viewing restrictions on documents, files, even entire collections of papers, as required. At the time of your donation, the need for any restrictions can be discussed. Viewing restrictions are normally limited to a period of not greater than 25 years.

Bottom line: I'm just too busy to tend to this matter.

We praise God that you continue to be used of Him in the Church. But can you really think of anything more important than preserving the fruits of your ministry to the blessing and benefit of future generations? Besides, you know best how you want these papers to be treated. It truly is something that you must do, if your wishes are to be observed. If you need help or cannot yourself do any of the actual work of gathering these things together, we can provide someone to assist you. If you are still actively laboring in the Lord's work, the Center can also serve as a very helpful "closet," storing your papers for you, while still making them available to you as needed.

If you leave this matter undone, our experience has been that surviving relatives may be either physically or emotionally unable to properly deal with your papers.  Some may even fail to realize the value of your papers and may simply throw them out.  The best thing is to take the time to contact us and we will work with you to preserve this portion of the fruit of your ministry.

I still have reservations about donating.

By God’s grace, you have lived an honorable life before the Lord and in service to His people.  In those cases where you may want to protect the privacy or reputation of others, viewing restrictions are provided in answer to the problem.  The best thing that you can do to allay your concerns is to become more familiar with the Historical Center, its staff and its ministry to the Church.  The donation of your papers is an important matter—important enough to warrant a visit to see our facility and to sit down and discuss the issues that concern you.

How else can I assist with the work of the PCA Historical Center?

The donation of an individual's papers is a serious matter, one that involves the Historical Center in a commitment of both time and money for a protracted period of time. In accepting your papers, we make a commitment to preserve and promote those papers for years to come. You can further help in the work of the Historical Center by speaking to family, friends and churches about the financial needs of the Center. Those living in the St. Louis area may also consider serving as a volunteer in the Historical Center. Above all, please do keep this vital work in your prayers.

What do you mean by "papers"? What kind of things are you looking for?
£ - Correspondence files are especially important.
£ - Minutes and other materials from committees & works of the church that you have been involved with.
£ - Copies of both your published and unpublished writings
£ - Sermons, preferably in transcribed form, but also in audio or video formats.
£ - Back issues of some denominational and other magazines, newspapers, newsletters, etc.
£ - Photographs
£ - Video tape or film formats of important events.
£ - Diaries
£ - Journals
£ - Scrapbooks
£ - Even representative samples of hobbies, artwork or other pastimes, as these also help to represent
the larger picture of your life in Christ!


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