Collection Policy

This document establishes the framework within which the ELCA Region I archives program functions. All practices and procedures in the regional archives are in accordance with this policy. The archivist for Pacific Lutheran University, where the regional archives are housed, is responsible for drafting this policy. The proper name is: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Region I Archives.

The archivist, synod staff, and other designated persons have the authority to negotiate for the transfer of records from Region 1 synod offices. Personnel files that are confidential as well as executive committee notes on disciplinary matters are kept in each bishop’s office and then destroyed. Personnel files that include biographical information may be transferred to archives according to retention schedules.

The mission of the ELCA Region I archives is to appraise, collect, preserve, organize, describe, and make available non-current ELCA regional, synodical, and congregational records which have permanent administrative, legal, fiscal, and historical value.

The ELCA Region I Archives is an administrative department of the Southwestern Washington Synod on behalf of the other synods. The responsibility for the management and development of the Archives rests with the curator under the delegated authority of the bishops of each synod.

Types of Materials Collected

a. Formats

The archival collection includes types of materials which are normally found in church archives. These include synodical records, congregation files, publications, newspapers, yearbooks, catalogs, brochures, bulletins, newsletters, news releases, clippings, scrapbooks, personal papers, oral histories, photographs, slides, filmstrips, audiovisual recordings, manuscripts, blueprints, drawings, and other ephemera. Artifacts and works of art, more appropriate for museum, are typically not collected.

b. Subject Coverage

The archival collection is limited to materials relating to ELCA Region I as well as to predecessors of ELCA. The collection includes the following:

I. Official synod records

  1. Published annual reports of the synod, including synod assembly material (e.g., pre-assembly reports, worship, and ordination service material)
  2. Synod Council agenda, minutes, and exhibits
  3. Agenda, minutes, and exhibits for synod boards and committees
  4. Master list of congregations in the synod
  5. Correspondence of bishop, assistants, other officers, and committees and task forces
  6. Synod newsletters and newspapers

II. Synod records involving Congregations

  1. Congregational histories, anniversary booklets, dedication booklets, sample bulletins, and newsletters
  2. Paper records for fully dissolved congregations. Congregations that have merged and whose records went to the responsible church are not collected.
  3. Copies of congregational statistical reports prepared for the ELCA Office of the Secretary

III. Synod Records involving Persons

  1. Biographical data on pastors and associates in ministry, which are not considered confidential. (see “Recommendations for the Care of Information on Rostered Persons Retained in Synod Offices“)
  2. Biographical data on deceased pastors and associates in ministry
  3. Biographical data on prominent lay persons

IV. Records Involving Related Ministries

  1. Records of the Regional Office
  2. Correspondence and other records of ELCA personnel deployed to synods and regions
  3. Records of synodical Women of the ELCA organization
  4. Records of synodical Lutheran Men in Mission organization
  5. Records of defunct educational and charitable institutions
  6. Records of defunct Lutheran camps
  7. Records of special synod sponsored events, appeals, and short-term projects
  8. Records of Synod sponsored ecumenical projects and events
  9. Records of special ministries in the synod whose material may be independent, or supplement, official synod records

Transfer of Records to the Regional Archives

For official church records, the transfer of records is managed via retention schedules mutually agreed upon by the curator and office in question.

For personal papers, donations are documented by a donor agreement specifying the conditions of transfer with regards to legal title, restrictions of access, literary rights, etc.

It is the obligation of the ELCA Region I Archives to care for these records permanently and to provide proper facilities and procedures to insure the preservation of records transferred.

When records are transferred to the ELCA Region I Archives, they become the property of the Archives and Special Collections.

Arrangement and Description

It is the responsibility of the curator to arrange materials which have been transferred according to the recognized archival principles of provenance and original order. Where no apparent order exists, the order should be determined by the potential uses.

Access to ELCA Region I Archives

Access to the regional archives is limited to those conducting legitimate research in matters dealing with ELCA and antecedent church bodies. Researchers are expected to comply with rules and regulations of the Archives and Special Collections.