The primary task of the district archivist is to document the development and work of the district, the district’s churches, and the district’s interactions with the larger Church of the Nazarene.
In order to adequately document district life, the emphasis should not be placed exclusively on documenting the mechanics of district administration. Rather, it should include assembling sources on the district’s broader life and culture, including its worship practices and experiences, its revivals, and its people.
Because the Church of the Nazarene is composed of nearly 400 districts around the world, each district has a distinct ethos that is determined by many factors, including nationality, predominant race, and predominant language. The ethos is also affected by the district’s cultural diversity or lack thereof. The district archivist needs to take a broad approach to his or her task, systematically assembling a collection of materials that will document the inner and outer life of the district.
The preliminary considerations include:
• selecting a district archivist
• selecting an appropriate site to house the district collections
What types of materials should be collected?
1. All district assembly proceedings.
2. All district publications, newsletters, official communications from the district superintendent and other district boards and agencies.
3. The publications of Nazarene-related institutions located within the district boundaries such as an orphanage, home for the elderly, or compassionate ministry center.
4. The publications and communications of the district WMI and NYI.
5. The official papers of the district superintendents. Former district superintendents should be contacted to see if they still retain district correspondence that could be added to the district archives. A plan should be implemented to transfer the correspondence of the present and future district superintendents to the district archives after that correspondence becomes inactive. The General Board has adopted a policy regarding the official papers of denominational officers, employees of the Global Ministry Center, and church commissions and committees. That policy states that all papers created on church time is the church’s property and not that of the individuals who create them. Perhaps the district assembly would consider and adopt a similar policy regarding the correspondence of its officers, and implement a method to transfer materials to the district archives in a systematic fashion.
6. Biographical files on district ministers and significant laity should be compiled. A survey sent to all pastors and leading laity would help start this series of documentation. The survey should ask for birth date and place, marriage date and name of spouse, names of children, educational history, work history, and service on district, regional, and denomination-wide boards and agencies. The survey should also be sent to any living missionaries who assisted in the birth of the district or its development.
7. It may be helpful to develop a small library of books that will assist researchers and the district archivist. This should include any denominational histories and general surveys of Nazarene life, and any publications dealing with the history of the district or its churches.
8. The archivist should collect congregational histories, including published works and more informal histories that may have been issued only in typescript.
9. Photographs documenting the development of the district and its churches should be solicited from those in a position to donate them. Perhaps someone on the district would be willing to be the district photographer and provide photographs of district events beginning now and into the future.
10. Copies of audio and video tapes that are recorded of district events should be placed in the archives.
11. Any materials documenting social customs and distinctive religious practices of the church should be placed in the archives. Statistical and chronological information is also appropriate.
12. A method of cataloguing materials is essential. It might be a traditional inventory listing system or it could be an electronic system. For very small collections, it could even be a card catalogue system. Each system has advantages and disadvantages. The important thing is to have a method of cataloguing appropriate to the size of the district collections.