In which Ruth steps back in time

You know how there are some jobs that just keep getting put to the bottom of the list?  Those jobs that you think would be better done when the weather is warm. Those jobs that require more than one person and you just never get it together. Oh so its only me then.  So when I came to Christ Church my plan was to sort out all the archive material, some of which was in the St Andrew Chapel under the church, some in a cupboard in the small meeting room, and some in a cupboard in the rectory. And that doesn’t begin to include the many folders which live in Vestry (past and present) members’ homes.

Yesterday was the day when it actually happened. The boxes were all brought in and the new fire-proof cupboard lay empty and waiting. Of course what I should have done was find out first what archive material we are obliged to keep. How many letters of confirmation for the Licensing of a Rector in 1963 do you actually need to keep? How many copies of the order of service, the detailed plan of where everyone will sit, the choice of hymns, and the service booklet? How many gas bills, interesting though they are? There are boxes and boxes of Financial stuff which was just too much for the new cupboard and have had to go back to the chapel. Interestingly there are hardly any Vestry minutes.

The problem was keeping on working and not stopping to read out what little gems we’d found. Old photos of old faces. Piles of correspondence about the old organ. Annual returns when the congregational roll numbered 400+ (we’re now at 120). Old liturgies for extra services. Boxes of cards with stories of people. But the most difficult thing of all was not to read all the old church magazines. They go back to 1915 and are a treasure trove of Feasts kept, recitals heard, gifts made, and clergy’s musings. I can’t wait!

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2 thoughts on “In which Ruth steps back in time

  1. If I lived in your parish I would probably appreciate photos and single copies parish magazines, of orders of service, seating plans etc. to put into my local history archive, and there may be someone in your parish who takes care of a similar archive. If there isn’t, find someone to put together just as much of a parish archive as will be interesting for people to look at on significant anniveraries etc. and – maybe, just maybe – let people know locally that they can come and pick over what’s left and is not subject to data protection, confidentiality etc. for anything they want to add to their own family archives. Then burn the rest, or – if you can’t – bag, box and label it and put it somewhere dry and inaccessible.

    As for financial stuff, I’d stuff it all (however ancient) into a folder and hand it over to the parish treasurer to deal with.

  2. Its the finding someone that’s the problem which is why I was doing it! And the Treasurer gave me all the stuff!!

    We’re awaiting judgement from the Diocese of what we have to keep as Archives and then shall do as you suggest with the rest.

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