Since 1752 Trinity Episcopal Church on the New Haven Green has embraced parishioners from all walks of life, and participated in the region’s long history. The contents of the church’s archives reflect the community’s cultural memory. Today, parishioners with connections to the Yale University Library system and New Haven’s non-profit sector are implementing new technologies and technical workflows. We will describe how we are preserving our archival resources, giving parishioners and scholars access to our parish story, and providing church staff and The Vestry with information necessary for running the church today.
The first challenge for the archives team was to show the parish community and finance committee the extent of the archives’ contents and the relationship of this material to parish and New Haven history. Lifelong parish members, acquainted with the archives’ contents, began an informal dialogue during church events. When the church office relocated, the archives was given its own room, a donation that covered initial expenses, and a line in the History Ministry budget.
The archives team includes parishioners who are library professionals, and others who have experience relevant to the task. Together, we have developed a well-defined tagging system, and an Excel spreadsheet where we have been entering data/records. The record structure includes an element set based on Dublin Core. Some fields use controlled vocabulary terms, but we also have a notes field with free text.
We are currently acquiring a flatbed scanner, and will be implementing OMEKA, an open source web publishing software designed for small libraries and archives, December 2013. We plan to migrate our data, and workflow to the digital environment as soon as possible.
We have created documentation for the current workflow. We have consulted with archivists and copyright experts at other institutions, and will create new documentation for our digital workflow, as well as guidelines and policies for archives users. Our goal for that documentation is May 2014 at the latest.
We want to expand our work through the help of current information technology. Through technology, we are electronically weaving ourselves with other local cultural heritage institutions, including The New Haven Museum, Yale University Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Divinity School Archives, and the Connecticut State Library—sharing both parish and community stories as we work. Trinity on the Green is one of the oldest Episcopal parishes in the United States. Our church's story reflects both the religious history of New Haven and our country. The current congregation is an active group of parishoners who are keenly aware of our place in this history, and we appreciate the need to ensure that our archives is well-organized and available responsibly to our membership and also the wider community.
The increased organization and availability of archival material is bringing about positive results. The archives has already assisted a few parishoners in geneology research. These research projects have also expanded the congregation’s knowledge of parish history through three Sunday afternoon discussions during the fall of 2013. The church’s Vestry has also asked the archives team to compile a history of monetary giving, using archival materials, in an effort to evaluate the presence and status of the church’s current endowment.
Our paper will provide a casestudy that examines the efforts of one parish to incorporate new technologies into their archival practices, preserving Trinity’s cultural memory, along with the local and national communities it has historically served.