--by Yvonne Wathen, Records Manager at the Presbyterian Historical Society
When we feel we’ve lost our way in sports, in our career, in life, we oftentimes go "back to the basics" to find our footing so we can then move forward again. As Michael Jordan said, “The minute you get away from fundamentals--whether it's proper technique, work ethic, or mental preparation--the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, your job, whatever you’re doing.” Keeping this in mind, let’s start at the basics of record keeping, for it...
In honor of Valentine’s Day we would like to share with you the story of Minister John H. Grier, “The Marrying Parson.” John Hays Grier was born in 1788 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In 1809, he graduated from Dickinson College and then studied theology under his uncle Reverend Nathan Grier and was licensed to preach in 1813 by the Presbytery of New Castle. He was installed as pastor of the United Churches of Pine Creek and Great Island, Lycoming County, PA, in 1814.
Margaret Merrick, PHS Records Manager, provides training to new stated clerks as part of the biannual orientations offered by the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly. Orientations are held in May and November in Louisville, and Margaret presents sessions on using retention schedules, the disposition of records, and the challenges of managing and preserving electronic records. The training is designed to introduce new stated clerks to records management in both paper and electronic formats, as well as provide information on the services that PHS offers to mid councils.
We recently had a call from a member of a session in Florida, routed to me because the session asked to have their records returned. Returns aren't unheard of. Congregations may need to do extensive research in their own records to resolve property disputes, write histories, or celebrate anniversaries.
But archivists are trained to ask questions of our patrons. So I asked, "Do you need to do some research in the materials?"
"No, we were going to photocopy all of them to have a copy here."
This response isn't all that uncommon either. Many...