« Architecture, Hebrew Archives, Ecclesiastical Archontici »

Archives, Ecclesiastical


I. Europe.

Germany (§ 1).

France (§ 2).

Holland (§ 3).

Switzerland, Scandinavia, and England (§ 4).

The Papal Archives (§ 5).

II. America.

Baptists (§ 1).

Congregationalists (§ 2).

Lutherans (§ 3).

Methodists and Moravians (§ 4).

Presbyterians (§ 5).

The Protestant Episcopal Church (§ 6).

The Reformed Churches, Dutch and German (§ 7).

I. Europe:

1. Germany.

The great value and also the extreme importance of ecclesiastical records, for historical inquiry as well as in the daily life of the minister and other church officials, in former times were not properly perceived and appreciated. Works on canon law have usually little to say on the subject. Within the last few decades, however, the representatives of historical theology have pointed out the duty of the Church to attend to a careful administration and preservation of its archival treasures. A number of provincial synods in Germany, including the Austrian general synod, have passed important resolutions in that direction, and the later ecclesiastical legislation has provided for reorganization of the ecclesiastical archives and registry. The archival system of the Moravian Brethren is excellent. In 1888-89 a fire-proof building was erected for the archives at Herrnhut (cf. A. Glitsch, Versuch einer Geschichte der historischen Sammlungen der Brüder-Unitat, Herrnhut, 1891). The archives collected in Coblenz in consequence of a resolution passed by the eighth Rhenish provincial synod in 1853 are arranged in a model way. The interest in the same has steadily grown, and since the publication of a catalogue, they have been constantly consulted. Those Reformed Dutchmen, who as fugitives from Spanish persecution fled from the Netherlands to the countries of the Rhine, brought thither their Presbyterian church-order and synodical institutions, and taught Germany to take care of its ecclesiastical archives.

2. France.

The first national synod of the Reformed Church of France held at Paris in 1559 enjoined that in every church all important matters relating to religion should be registered, that the material should be collected by a pastor at each district synod, and that the material gathered by each provincial synod was to be brought to the general synod. Since that the ecclesiastical archives, especially in those parts where the oldest constitution after Calvin’s idea had been adopted, have been carefully kept. The Société pour l’histoire du Protestantisme français (founded in 1852) has contributed largely toward their preservation and revision.

3. Holland.

In Holland, the Walloon general synod appointed in 1878 a Commission de l’histoire et de la bibliothéque des églises Wallones, which publishes bulletins containing an account of its work. The Dutch Reformed Church has adopted some good rules, and its archives are in the Willem’s Church in the Hague; a catalogue is published.

[The archives of the Classis of Amsterdam, which had charge of about twenty colonies in different parts of the world, are kept in the Consistory Room of the Oude Kerck. There are here about 100 volumes in manuscript, and twenty-five portfolios of letters from the different colonies. The letters of the classis to the colonies are recorded in a succession of volumes, numbered xx.-xxxii. (For a full account of these archives, cf. Ecclesiastical Records o f the State of New York, 6 vols., printed at the expense of the State of New York, 1901-06, vol. i., pp. 18-24.) In the same room are found complete sets of the minutes of the Synod of North Holland, in many manuscript volumes; also minutes of many of the other provincial synods, more or less complete (Ecclesiastical Records, i. 24-25). The minutes of the General Synod of Holland are found at 100 Java Street, in The Hague. Here also are the original minutes of the Synod of Dort, 1618-19; the reports on the translation of the Bible, 1637; and the minutes of most of the provincial synods of Holland. Consult Ecclesiastical Records, i. 26-27, which give many references; also Catalogus van het Oud Synodaal Archief, prepared by H. Q. Janssen, minister at St. Anna ter Muiden; with the indexes of the Old Provincial Ecclesiastical Archives, published by the General Synod of the Netherlands Reformed Church, 1878, p. 198. This gives a list of all the books and papers in these archives of the General Synod.]

4. Switzerland, Scandinavia, and England.

In Switzerland the different cantons look after their archives more or less independently (cf. Inventur der Schweizer Archiv, herausgegeben auf Veranlassung der allgemeinen geschichtsforschenden Gesellschaft der Schweiz, Bern, 1895 sqq.). In Scandinavian countries the ecclesiastical archives are not separated from those of the State, but of late special attention has been paid to the former. In England the Reports of the Historical Manuscripts Commission (appointed in 1869) contain much that is derived from the archives of the Established Church. The Huguenot Society of London (founded 1885) issues valuable publications, and the General Assembly of Scotland also pays attention to archival matters.

5. The Papal Archives.

After the Magdeburg Centuries proved that the so called Isidorian decretals were forgeries, the papal archives became almost inaccessible for scientific research until Pope Leo XIII. opened them to scholars of all nations, and appointed 274 a historical commission to edit and publish them. The subarchivists, however, may deny access to works of a familiar character or those which it does not seem opportune to publish.

T. O. Radlach.

II. America:

1. Baptists.

The American Baptist Historical Society has its headquarters in Philadelphia with the American Baptist Publication Society and is gathering much valuable material. The Samuel Colgate Collection of Baptist documents in connection with Colgate University, Hamilton, N. Y., is large and, supported by a good endowment, is likely to grow. Several of the States have their own Baptist Historical Societies and are collecting documents. There is a good deal of material on Texas Baptist history in the library of Baylor University at Waco, and the librarian is seeking to enlarge the collection. Most of the State Baptist colleges and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Ky., have collections of greater or less importance. Regents Park Baptist College, London, probably has more material on English Baptist history than any other one institution. A collection is also being made at the Baptist Church House, Southampton Row, London. The Mennonite library at Amsterdam is said to be rich in materials relating to the Mennonites and other antipedobaptists.

2. Congregationalist.

The polity of the Congregationalists makes each congregation a law unto itself and the archives are kept in the congregations. In this way much valuable material has never found its way into print or even into general knowledge. The Congregational Library was founded in Boston in 1853 to be a repository of such material, and much has been gathered there. Other valuable repositories are Yale University library, which has Henry Martyn Dexter’s collection; the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Prince Library in Boston; and the library of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester. The various state bodies and the National Assemblies held at Albany, N. Y., in 1852, in Boston in 1865, and triennially since 1871, publish their minutes. Since 1854 a Year Book (Boston: Congregational Publishing Society) has been published, which gives statistics and a list of ministers, etc.

3. Lutherans.

Among the Lutherans the Historical Society of the General Synod has its collection of documents in the library of the Gettysburg (Pa.) Theological Seminary; there is an archivarius of the General Council and the archives are in the Krauth library, Mount Airy, Philadelphia. By resolution of the Synod of Pennsylvania all congregations are requested to have their history written up to date and copies deposited in the synodical archives; also biographical sketches of all deceased clerical members. Valuable material is preserved in Amsterdam; at the Gloria Dei Church, Philadelphia; Old Swedes’ Church, Wilmington, Delaware; and in St. Matthew’s German Church, New York City. The great source of information relating to the early Lutheran history in Pennsylvania is the so called Hallesche Nachrichten, or more exactly Nachrichten von den vereinigten deutschen evangelisch-lutheranischen Gemeinden in Nord America, absonderlich in Pennsylvanien (2 vols., Halls, 1750-87; new ed. by Mann; Schmucker, and Germann, vol. i., Allentown, 1886).

4. Methodist and Moravians.

The archives of the various branches of Methodists are to be sought in the published journals of the General Conferences and minutes of the Annual Conferences, also in the written minutes of the minor bodies. Collections are in the libraries of the denominational publishing houses. The archives of the Moravian Church are at Bethlehem, Pa., and embrace the minutes of various synods, conferences, etc.

5. Presbyterians.

The constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the United States requires each one of the church courts, in their regular gradation (viz., the church session, presbytery, synod, and general assembly) to keep fair and full records of its proceedings. Further, the church session, composed of the pastor and the ruling elders of a particular congregation, is required to submit its records to the next higher judicatory, the presbytery; the presbytery submits its records to the synod; and each synod submits its records to the general assembly. This system secures a proper record in the first place; then corrects errors, both as to fact and law; and also introduces uniformity of both record and action into all church procedure. The first Presbyterian congregations in America were founded early in the seventeenth century and the written records of some of them go back into that century. The first presbytery was formed in Philadelphia in 1706 and its manuscript records are in existence with the exception of the first page. The General Synod was established in 1717, and its manuscript records are complete. The first general assembly met in 1789, and its records are likewise intact. Many of the records of the presbyteries and synods are published regularly in printed form from year to year, and the minutes of the proceedings of the general assembly have been published from 1789 to the present time. The complete records of the General presbytery, General Synod, and General Assembly from 1706 to 1869 have been reprinted in eleven volumes, edited by Rev. Dr. Wm. H. Roberts, stated clerk of the General Assembly. The volumes from 1870 to date are issued separately. The Presbyterian Historical Society, located in the Witherspoon Building, Philadelphia, renders invaluable service to all Presbyterian and Reformed. Churches in the United States by providing proper accommodations for historical records of all description.

6. The Protestant Episcopal Church.

In the matter of the preservation of its archives, the Protestant Episcopal Church has always been careful, having had for a number of years a joint commission on archives, consisting of prominent members of both houses of the General Convention. In addition, there is a historiographer, a custodian of the standard Bible and of the standard prayer-book, and, further, a 275 recorder of ordinations. Reports from these several officials are submitted and published triennially, and efforts are made from time to time to add to the already valuable collection of archives such material as may appear to be worthy of preservation.

7. The Reformed Churches, Dutch and German.

The Reformed Church in America (Dutch Reformed Church) has a special fire-proof room set apart for its archives in the Sage Library at New Brunswick, N. J. Here are deposited all the minutes of the coetus, 1737-71; of the old provisional synods, 1771-99; of the general synod, 1794 to present time; of the four particular synods, except the volumes yet in use; of many of the classes, all having been invited to deposit their records here; and of many of the churches; also, in part, of the benevolent boards. Here also are to be found the original documents and letters, or transcripts of the same (about 2,000 pages), secured by the historian, J. Romeyn Brodhead, in Holland in 1841-43; also transcripts of the minutes of the Classis of Amsterdam, and of the Synod of North Holland, so far as these relate to America; and transcripts of the correspondence between these Holland bodies and the churches and early ecclesiastical bodies in America, secured by the Rev. Dr. E. T. Corwin, in Holland, in 1897-98, bound in fifteen volumes, and amounting to about 4,000 pages. A large part of this material has been printed at the expense of the State of New York, in the six volumes styled Ecclesiastical Records of the State of New York (1901-06). Consult the article Amsterdam Correspondence in the Papers of the American Society of Church Hist., viii. (1897), pp. 81-107; the introduction to Ecclesiastical Records of New York, vol. i., pp. 5-48; the Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society, vol. i., No. 2 (Dec., 1901), pp. 161-188; Digest of Constitutional and Synodical Legislation of the Reformed Church in America (1906), articles Archives, Amsterdam Correspondence, General Synod, Synodical Archives, etc. The Reformed Church in the United States (German Reformed Church) has preserved in the library of the Historical Society of Lancaster, Pa., transcripts of original documents, embracing correspondence with Holland. The various synods and classes have also their manuscript minutes. Many official documents have been published by the several States.

Bibliography: For list of early works consult the article “Archivwesen, kirchliches” in Hauck-Herzog, RE, i. 785. General works: G. Holtzinger, Katechismus der Registratur and Archivkunde, Leipsic. 1883; F. Frisch. Anleitung sur Einrichtung und Führung der Gemeinde-Registraturen, Stuttgart, 1885; H. A. H. Burkhardt, Handbuch und Addressbuch der deutschen Archive, Leipsic. 1887; H. Breslau, Urkundenlehre, i., chap. v., Die Archive, Leipsic, 1889; F. von Löher, Archivkunde, Paderborn. 1890; F. von Helfert,, Staatliches Archivwesen, Vienna, 1893; the Archivale Zeitschrift, vols. i.-xiii., ed. F. von Löher. Munich, 1876-89, new series ed. L. von Rockinger, 1889 sqq. For the Evangelical Church of Germany, E. W. Kühnert. Praktische Winke sur Einrichtung einer Pfarrregistratur, Hanover, 1893-94; A. Kluge. Das Kirchenarchiv, Barmen, 1895. For the papal archives: P. Hinschius, Das Kirchenrecht, i. 432 sqq., Berlin, 1869; L. P. Gachard, Les Archives du Vatican, Brussels, 1874; G. B. de Rossi, De origine, historia, indicibus, scrinii et bibliothecæ sedis aposolicæ, Rome, 1886; S. Löwenfeld, Geschichte des päpstlichen Archivs bis zum Jahre 1817 and Zur neuesten Geschichte des päpstlichen Archivs, in Historisches Taschenbuch, ed. W. Maurenbrecher, 6th ser. 5-6, Leipsic. 1886-87; A. Pieper, Römische Archive, in the Römische Quartalschrift, i., Rome, 1887; Von Pflugk-Hartung Ueber Archive und Register der Päpste, in ZKG. xii., Gotha, 1890

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