Archives Access Policy

User Communities

The Mennonite Church USA Archives makes its collections and services available to the employees of Mennonite Church USA and its agencies and to the general public. Letters of introduction or reference are not required. There is no use fee for the general public. All archives users (including employees of Mennonite Church USA and its agencies) must register annually with the archives, presenting valid photograph identification at the time of registration.  Members of Anabaptist communities that forbid photographic representation of individuals may instead present two forms of non-photograph identification. Archives users must also sign the visitor register daily.

Archives users under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian during their initial visit to the archives.

Restrictions on Access

The Mennonite Church USA Archives affirms and strives to uphold the Association of College & Research Libraries / Society of American Archivists Joint Statement on Access to Research Materials in Archives and Special Collections Libraries. We restrict few of our holdings, and we include in every finding aid an access statement that indicates the conditions governing access to the materials.

The Mennonite Church USA and its agencies may specify whether records transferred to the archives are open for public research or restricted from such research. If a researcher wishes to use restricted material, archives staff will refer the request to the office that created the records. Requests may be granted without further stipulation, granted with the condition that personally identifying information not be traditionally or electronically published, or denied.

Furthermore, the archives will deny access to anyone who has a legal claim against the Mennonite Church USA or any of its agencies. Requests for discovery should be forwarded to the Mennonite Church USA Director of Archives and Records Management. The Director will consult with denominational legal counsel before providing access to subpoenaed records.

Private individual and corporate donors of records may place restrictions with specific time limitations on some or all materials donated to the Mennonite Church USA Archives. These restrictions must be documented in the deed of gift.  Donors are permitted to access materials that they have donated and restricted. Donors are not permitted to grant access to others, as this would violate the archives’ principle of granting equal access to materials in its collections.

Restricted materials are closed for public research until the period of restriction ends. The archives may consult with creating offices and donors regarding the possibility of redacting records. The redaction of records, however, is extremely time-consuming, and archives staff may not be able to provide redacted records in a timely fashion.

Unprocessed collections are considered open for research. However, the archives may need to delay access in some cases in order to inventory the collection or stabilize materials in poor physical condition.

If an archives user discovers materials that should be restricted – materials containing confidential or sensitive information regarding finances, grades, investigative methods, disciplinary action, etc. – the archives user should alert archives staff. Archives staff may withdraw the materials from further use.

Personnel files documenting employment and voluntary service with Commission on Home Ministries (GCMC), Commission on Overseas Missions (GCMC), Mennonite Board of Missions (MC), and Mennonite Mission Network (MC USA) are closed to public research until the death of the employee/volunteer. Former employees/volunteers may access their own personnel files in the archives by presenting valid photographic identification. Public researchers seeking access to personnel files in the archives must present proof of the former employee’s/volunteer’s death (death certificate or obituary) to archives staff prior to gaining access to the files.

Intellectual Access

The archives provides intellectual access to its collections primarily through online finding aids, but also through its website and the assistance of archives staff members.

Physical Access

The archives reading room is intended as a space to accommodate researchers using archival materials. Individuals seeking quiet study space will be referred elsewhere.

Due to limited seating, the archives staff may have to delay archives users’ access to records. Seating preference will be given first to employees of the Mennonite Church USA and its agencies, and second to archives users who notified archives staff of their arrival in advance.

To ensure the future availability of archival collections, archives users must comply with the rules and regulations of the reading room stated on the reverse side of the archives user registration form.

The archives may require archives users to work with reproductions of documents rather than original documents that are fragile.

Archives users with a demonstrated and documented history of willful or unintentional carelessness with our collections may be denied access.

Reference Services

The reference and research requests of employees of the Mennonite Church USA and its agencies receive top priority.  Research, reproduction, and image use fees do not apply to the Mennonite Church USA and its agencies. Archives staff members often conduct research in the collections on behalf of the employees of the Mennonite Church USA and its agencies. Complex research questions and research for lengthy news articles may however, require employee participation in that research.

The reference and research requests of the general public are handled in a timely fashion. Research, reproduction and image use fees for the general public may be found on the archives web site. Information about our collections is always provided without fees. Research within those collections for remote researchers is subject to fees.

On-site archives users may reproduce archival materials themselves using either the photocopier in the reading room, personal digital cameras or personal scanners. All copies made using either archives-owned or personal equipment must be made in accordance with copyright law and archival policies, as well as concern for the physical condition of the records.


Each finding aid provides a preferred citation form for the collection or record series described. A general handout about preferred citation form is also available online and in the reading room.


The archives staff can only grant permission to publish those materials in its holdings for which it owns copyright.  Please consult with the archives staff before publishing any of our holdings.

 Approved 11/2013