Archives Collection Development Policy

Overview

The Mennonite Church USA Archives collects, preserves and provides access to the official records of the denomination and its agencies: Everence, Mennonite Education Agency, MHS, Mennonite Mission Network and MennoMedia. The archives also maintains a rich collection of manuscripts documenting the individual and organizational activities of American Mennonites.

Programs Supported

The Mennonite Church USA archival program provides important services to the denomination and the general public.  These include:

  • Support for publications produced and programming presented under the auspices of the denomination, its agencies, conferences, congregations and other Mennonite organizations.
  • The cultivation of unique historical collections and provision of reference assistance to a broad spectrum of researchers.
  • Administrative support for denominational and agency staff
  • Administrative support for conferences, congregations and other Mennonite organizations.

Users

While the Mennonite Church USA Archives welcomes all archives users, our collections are selected to meet the needs of five primary user groups:

  • Denominational and agency staff and volunteers
  • Regional, local and family historians
  • Scholarly researchers (post-graduate and graduate)
  • Staff and volunteers of Mennonite organizations
  • Student researchers (grades 6-12, undergraduate and graduate)

Collecting Areas by Subject 

The collection of Mennonite Church USA’s official records and those of its agencies is to be carried out through the records management program. This collecting policy therefore addresses only manuscripts.

Manuscripts collected by Mennonite Church USA Archives should document one of the following subjects, listed in rank order:

  • Denominational and agency planning, prioritizing and decision-making not captured in official records.
  • Experiences of racial / ethnic and gender minorities in Mennonite Church USA, the (old) Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church.
  • Significant contributions to American Mennonite historical scholarship or theology.
  • Mennonite mission and service work, with preference given to work conducted under the auspices of an Mennonite Church USA / Mennonite Church / General Conference Mennonite Church mission or service organization.

Conference and Congregational Records

The Mennonite Church USA Archives has neither the authority nor the resources to collect comprehensively the formal and informal records of Mennonite Conferences and Congregations. However, the archives may accept the records of select conferences and congregations as manuscript collections. Preference will be given to conferences and congregations located in regions close to the Mennonite Church USA Archives, or in regions not served by another Mennonite historical agency. Active conferences and congregations will be asked for an annual financial contribution to help support the archives.

Geographical Considerations

Whenever possible, efforts to document the subject areas above will adhere to the following geographic criteria, listed in rank order:

  • Indiana, Michigan, Ohio (Mennonite Church USA Archives – Goshen)
  • Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, California (Mennonite Church USA Archives – North Newton)
  • International sites under the administration of Mennonite Church USA / Mennonite Church / General Conference Mennonite Church agencies.
  • Within the United States

Language Considerations

Mennonite Church USA Archives primarily collects materials in English, German and Spanish. Collections containing texts in other languages will be considered if (1) a substantial portion of the materials in the collection are in one of the three languages listed above, or (2) the donor provides English summaries or translations, or (3) the materials document the experiences of racial / ethnic and gender minorities.

Physical Considerations

Donated materials may be declined if in poor physical condition. Embrittlement, evidence of active or inactive mold, and water damage require conservation treatments that the Mennonite Church USA Archives cannot afford to provide. Donors contributing materials in a compromised physical state will be asked to support conservation treatments financially.

Material Formats

As an archives, we seek to collect unpublished or informally published materials only. We usually do not accept books (including family Bibles), mainstream periodicals, artifacts, or artwork.

Due to space constraints, the Mennonite Church USA Archives accepts only those research files that contain unique materials collected by researchers in the course of their work. These include interviews, questionnaires, photographs, and other documents created by the researcher. Furthermore, we are unable to accept subject / clipping files. We invite donors to compile bibliographies of subject / clipping files, if they so desire. Finally, the Mennonite Church USA  Archives seldom collects drafts of published works.

Electronic records collecting policy to be determined.

Relationships with Other Mennonite Historical Agencies

Mennonite Church USA Archives is one of many archival repositories collecting historical materials pertaining to American Mennonites. Select peer institutions include:

  • Bluffton University Archives and Mennonite Historical Collections
  • California Mennonite Historical Society
  • Eastern Mennonite University Archives
  • Hesston College Archives
  • Illinois Mennonite Historical and Genealogical Society
  • Iowa Mennonite Historical Society
  • Juniata Mennonite History Center
  • Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
  • Menno Simons Historical Library and Archives
  • Mennonite Historical Association of the Cumberland Valley
  • Mifflin County Mennonite Historical Society
  • Mennonite Archives of Ontario
  • Mennonite Heritage Center
  • Mennonite Heritage Centre
  • Pacific Northwest Mennonite Historical Society

We collect in collaboration with these repositories, seeking to avoid conflict over institutional collecting interests. We would welcome the opportunity to develop a formal cooperative collecting policy with any or all of these institutions.

Approved 4/2011; Revised 10/2014