This page is designed for congregations, if you are interested in depositing personal papers please contact the Keeper of the Archives.
Congregational/Outreach Ministry records that are of permanent historical value should be deposited with your Conference Archives on a regular basis. The United Church Archives MNWO/ANCC serves congregations and other ministries in Keewatin Presbytery of All Native Circle Conference and the six presbyteries in the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. (To see United Church Manual references to Archiving Records, click here.)
Before preparing records for the Archives, please contact the Keeper of the Archives.
The United Church Network of Archives document, “What do the Archives Want? A Basic Guide for Congregations” (access here) and “Sample Records Schedule: Congregations” (access here) provide an overview of which documents should come to the Archives. “Archives and Recording Keeping A How-to Guide for Congregations and Conferences” is also a useful tool. (access here) (Note that it was published in 2005 and some references are now out of date.)
How often should records be deposited?
Records should be transferred to the Archives every three to five years. It is recommended that congregations develop a Records Management Strategy, including target goals for depositing records.
What about electronic records?
At this point in time, the Archives are unable to guarantee the ongoing preservation of electronic records, which require more active care and expense than traditional records. Electronic textual records with permanent value, including emails, should be printed on high quality paper. Photographs and audiovisual material can be submitted on CD or DVD along with a list of contents. Most CDs and DVDs do not have a long “shelf life” and may be unreadable within 5 to 10 years, but it is possible to convert them to new media.
Transfer is permanent
Once records are transferred to the Archives, they cannot be returned to the congregation; only under special and rare circumstances can records be temporarily transferred back to the original congregation. Generally, these records are transferred for a period of no more than three months and the physical security and on-going preservation of the records must be guaranteed.
Congregations may obtain copies of deposited records in the future and the Keeper of the Archives can conduct necessary research on a particular document on behalf of the congregation on an occasional basis.
In many cases, computer copies of records being deposited will be retained by the congregation. It is also possible to make or retain a copy of records that should be both in the Archives and could be of active interest in the congregation. For example, a sampling of church newsletters, photographs, and special reports could be kept for orientation for a new minister, or for an anniversary display.
Please note that the Archives is not the place for congregational artifacts, such as pulpit drapes, plaques, communion ware, and so on, except in rare circumstances. These items may be of interest to local museums or be kept in a historical display in the congregation.
Authorization for Transfer
Before records are transferred, the church board (or equivalent) should pass a motion approving the transfer, and attach to the minutes a list of the records being deposited.
Steps in Preparation
These are general guidelines for records preparation. The Keeper of the Archives will provide you with further guidance and can respond to specific questions.
- Do not rearrange the files, mixing different committees or projects or create a whole new filing system. The files should come to the Archives reflecting the organizational structure of the congregation.
- Transfer only the files (not the hanging folders). It is not necessary to put the records in new file folders.
- Be certain that the files are labelled accurately and clearly, and include the date range of the content (for eg., Sometown United Church Outreach Committee Minutes, 2000 – 2012)
- Make certain that all photographs are clearly identified and dated by writing on the back with a soft pencil or by numbering them and attaching a corresponding list with descriptions. When pictures have identifying information attached they are much more valuable.
- Weed out duplicates and cull records that are not of historic value. Follow guidelines for the culling, and for handling sensitive documents (see below).
- Complete a Transfer Form (LINK) for each box of records being deposited. This will assist staff in accurately processing your records.
When possible the records should be brought to the Archives in person. Please make an appointment first to be sure someone can be on hand to receive them. Alternatively, the records can be shipped in a secure manner by courier. For large donations, the Archives staff can make arrangements with the University of Winnipeg’s Shipping/ Receiving and the donor can drop off the records by car with minimal lifting. Please let Archives staff know when to expect them so they can be alert to any problem with the delivery.
Congregations will have records that are of a sensitive nature, including personnel and financial records and possibly records regarding disputes or conflicts. Use and access to these kinds of records need to be handled carefully while they are in the possession of the congregation and as they are transferred to the Archives. This is an area where it is important to consult with the Keeper of the Archives about appropriate processes. For more information see, “Privacy Issues: Recordkeeping and Archives” (access here)