1. Book of Church Order Requirements for Reformed Church Archives
1.1 The Reformed Church Archives defines the archival collection in a manner consistent with the standard professional definitions:
An archival collection is the whole of the written documents, drawings, and printed matter, officially received or produced by an administrative body or one of its officials, in so far as these documents were intended to remain in the custody of that body or that official.
It is important to note that records created by congregations, classes, regional synods, and the General Synod and its program agencies are governed by the following several sections of the Book of Church Order:
“The classis, in formally disbanding a church, shall be satisfied that each and all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:
“…The presentation to the classis of all formal church records and all other records and documents in its possession.” (Chapter 1, Part II, Art. 7, Sec. 16 )
Section 17 provides for the transfer of all real and personal property of a church when it is disbanded or dissolved. The records and documentation describing the life and mission of a congregation are part of that property.
“The clerk shall also be responsible for forwarding to the denominational archives the minutes of the classis and subsidiary corporations, all papers pertaining to disbanded churches, and all papers of the classis should the classis disband.” (Chapter 1, Part II, Art. 5, Sec. 2 )
1.4. Regional Synods
“The clerk shall also be responsible for forwarding to the denominational archives minutes of the regional synod and subsidiary corporations.” (Chapter 1, Part III, Art. 5, Sec. 4 )
1.5. General Synod
“The general secretary shall also be responsible for forwarding to the denominational archives minutes of the General Synod and subsidiary corporations, and shall undertake such other duties as may be assigned by the synod. (Chapter 1, Part IV, Art. 5, Sec. 3 )
2. Policy and Purposes of the Reformed Church Archives
The following statement of policy and purpose of the RCA Archives was approved by the General Synod in 1980 (MGS 1980, pp. 143-145), and revised by the General Synod Council in 1995 and in 2004.
2.1. The Archives is responsible for the custody and preservation of the archives and records of the Reformed Church in America (RCA). The archives and records of the RCA include all those produced by actions of the General Synod, regional synods, classes, and local churches. They include all boards, commissions, committees, and missions established by any of the above-mentioned bodies. In the event of dissolution of any of these bodies, their records and archives shall be transferred to the RCA Archives for custody and preservation.
2.2. Records of the RCA shall not be disposed of without the authorization of the archivist. No assembly or agency of the General Synod shall deposit official records with another archival repository.
2.3. The Archives shall be made available by appointment to staff of the RCA for the conducting of business and to others who have a legitimate interest in studying the history of the denomination. The Archives shall endeavor to promote scholarly research concerning the RCA and to that end shall publicize these records.
2.4. The functions of the RCA Archives shall be to:
a. Maintain, repair, and preserve the archives and non-current records of the RCA.
b. Establish an effective records management program for the denomination resulting in the mandatory transfer of non-current records deemed worthy of permanent preservation to the Archives according to satisfactory retention schedules.
c. Arrange, describe, and prepare suitable finding aids and guides to aid in accessing the records in custody of the Archives.
d. Inspect and appraise the records and archives in the possession of the RCA and its staff and determine suitable disposition. The archivist shall be bound to observe the confidential nature of their contents if so restricted. Restrictions on access and use shall be determined at the time of transfer, but will not be less than 20 years from the creation date. Sensitive and confidential records must be identified as such by the creating office. The Archives may request a list of the records to be made in accordance with established format.
e. Dispose of non-current records that have no further administrative, legal, historical, or other scholarly value with the agreement of the concerned bodies that produced or received the original record. The disposals shall be carried out in agreement between the Archives and these bodies. When no disposal schedules are available, disposal lists shall be prepared.
f. Encourage the deposit of archives of private individuals and organizations that are deemed to be of historical interest and reflect some aspect of the denomination’s work and mission in the world.
g. Assist in the publication and promotion of the Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America.
2.5. Official records are defined as all documentary materials (e.g., correspondence, publications, photographs, videotapes, etc.) received or originated by the RCA and its staff in the normal course of its activities, which serve as evidence of the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, and operations. Such records are the property of the RCA, and all rights, interests, and use of those records belong to the RCA.
3. Access to and Research in the Reformed Church Archives
3.1. The archives of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) are the property of the General Synod. They are preserved for the administrative, legal, financial, and historical needs of the church. Access to and use of these records is in accordance with the “Policy and Purposes of the Reformed Church Archives” statement (above).
3.2. All research in the RCA Archives is by appointment only. Researchers must fill out a research application and return it to the archivist prior to undertaking research. The archives may not be borrowed or used outside of the RCA Archives. There are no inter-library loan privileges for archival materials. Researchers may not use pens with these records, and the records must be handled with the utmost care. Researchers are responsible for any damage to records.
3.3. Access generally is granted by the archivist. In the cases of the following records, access must also be granted by the appropriate office:
- Mission records after 1967: Global Mission staff
- Finance records: finance staff
- General Secretary records: Office of the General Secretary
- Judicial business records: Office of the General Secretary
- Personnel files: personnel director
- Staff contact page
3.4. Research is at a fee of thirty dollars per day. Research fees for long-term use may be negotiated as the occasion arises.
3.5. Researchers are responsible to determine the copyright limitations of all records used for their publication. The Archives does not own the copyright to all records in its custody. No records may be reproduced for publication or transcribed without the permission of the RCA Archives.
3.6. In the interest of providing historical resources in various parts of the country, the RCA Archives may provide for the reproduction of pertinent records at the expense of the agency or assembly so desiring the reproduction. The reproduction is for personal research use only and may not be sold, published, or deposited elsewhere without the permission of the Reformed Church Archives. Copies of items for personal use may be requested also of some records if they are not in fragile condition. Copies will be made by archives staff. Copying and reproduction fees for materials are as follows:
Fees for Duplication of Archive Materials
Basic costs must be paid prior to the work. Cash is acceptable; checks should be payable to the Reformed Church in America. A fee of $25 plus collection costs will be imposed for all returned checks. Hourly base rates may be possible for large projects. The hourly rate shall not be less than $30/hour, and special projects may be negotiated with the archivist. All requests are handled on an as-available basis.
|Photographs, negatives, and slides
||$8.00/image (JPEG, 300 dpi, sent via email)
||$50.00/hour minimum plus $8.00/image
||Cost recovery of vendor charges
$10.00 retrieval/handling fee plus postage/handling
||Cost recovery of vendor charges
$10.00 retrieval/handling fee plus postage/handling
|Charges for materials
||$1.00/sheet (when printouts are requested)
(priority and express mail include the cost of mailing the item.)
When ordering images, the precise page or image identifier must be specified. For reproduction rights on the internet, video, film, or other media, inquiries should be directed to the archivist.