records to keep
and maintenance of current minutes and reports
of membership records and related statistical data
of the meeting and recollections of members
to deposit records
to deposit records
to deposit records
The Records Services Group of Philadelphia
Yearly Meeting has prepared the following guide to assist Monthly
Meetings in the care of their minutes and other important records.
Minutes and related documents which meetings create and preserve
today will be added to the heritage of the Society of Friends in
the Delaware Valley. Most meeting records, some of which date from
as early as the 1680s, have been deposited either at Friends
Historical Library of Swarthmore College or at the Quaker Collection,
Haverford College Library. Record keeping is a responsibility of
all Quaker meetings, not only those belonging to Philadelphia Yearly
Meeting. This guide has profited from practices and suggestions
developed by others.
have been revised several times over the years since they were first
prepared by the Records Committee. They reflect the experience of
knowledgeable archivists, including the staffs of the two Quaker
libraries, and incorporate many of the current practices commonly
used in the preservation of documents.
vary in size and circumstances and may need to adapt these suggestions
to their own particular circumstances, in consultation with the
Records Services Group or staff of the repository holding their
traditionally kept meticulous records of their activities to preserve
accountability to other Friends for actions taken in our collective
name and to uphold the truth of our actions to the world. In addition,
records serve important historical and legal functions. They
the history of the organization
legal rights for the organization, other bodies, and individuals
source material for the general institutional, personal and
social history of the time
What records to keep
The most important
records of a monthly meeting to be preserved are the minutes of
the monthly business meetings, including attachments such as reports
approved by the meeting. Other records typically kept permanently
of important committees such as Worship and Ministry
marriage certificates, membership records, and registers of
births and deaths
related property records
documenting special projects that have shaped the life of the
The volume and
range of records to be kept will depend upon the structure and activities
of the meeting. Meetings with larger programs may also generate
a significant quantity of records such as personnel files, case
files, and staff correspondence files.
Collection and maintenance of current minutes
The Clerk of
the Monthly Meeting or some other designated person is to be responsible
of minute books and other current records which may still be
in the meetings possession and copies of such records
(either photocopy or microfilm) if the originals have already
been placed in a depository library.
of committee minutes and reports
of any current records which should be kept permanently, forwarding
them to the Recording Clerk or other person assigned to the
preparation and care of the meetings permanent records.
paper, best for permanent records, is available at reasonable cost
from most stationery stores. The repositories can help if there
is a problem finding acid-free paper. Typed or computer-processed
minutes are preferred, though clear handwriting is acceptable. Ordinary
ribbon is satisfactory, and for handwritten minutes ordinary permanent
ink is advised. Ballpoint pens are not recommended. Copies
produced by laser printer and most dry photocopiers are archival,
but the dyes used by many inkjet printers fade rapidly. Headings
for important subjects and sequentially numbered paragraphs facilitate
their location later. To make binding easier, there should be a
margin of 1-1/2 inches on the left side of each page and also on
the right side overleaf if both sides of the paper are used.
The worst enemies
facing preservers of records are poor quality, acidic paper and
the atmospheric environment, especially high temperature and high
humidity, conditions under which mold and mildew flourish. This
is why non-acidic paper, good quality ink, and the proper storage
conditions, such as are found in the archival areas of the Quaker
libraries at Haverford and Swarthmore, are so important.
and related items should be filed separately from other records.
However, such materials can be valuable for the meeting's archives.
They should be stored in non-acidic folders or boxes and may be
forwarded with other records periodically to the depository libraries.
It is desirable to photocopy clippings and other short-lived materials
before they deteriorate. Scotch tape and other pressure sensitive
adhesives must not be used, because they are very acidic and deteriorate
rapidly. Since ordinary metal paper clips rust, use plastic clips
only. Before attempting repairs to paper or bindings, please consul
the meeting's repository for advice.
Maintenance of membership records and
related statistical data (usually the responsibility of the
The Yearly Meeting Office can offer advice about the very important
task of maintaining an accurate and current membership file.
A sample membership form and
certificate of transfer
are available. Meetings can also use the forms in the Handbook
on Records published by the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Records
Committee as a model for preparing their own. Completed forms
for former members may be forwarded to repository at any time,
but the Recorder should probably retain a copy at least throughout
the members lifetime.
reports: Membership statistics should be reported annually
to the Yearly Meeting. The Yearly Meeting will provide forms
on which to do this, and the Recorder should keep copies for
the monthly Meetings own records.
Copies of marriage certificates for weddings held under
the care of the meeting become part of the permanent records.
Photocopies or handwritten copies are acceptable. These certificates
are historically valuable as a source of genealogical information,
as confirmation of Meeting/friendship networks, and in order
to reveal variations in marriage practices.
Histories of the meeting and recollections
of members, voluntary activities which might be the task of
the Historian, if the meeting has one.
items such as pictures, sketches, or clippings from local
newspapers of articles concerning the meeting, or its members,
worth preserving should be included with the meeting's archives.
written history of the meeting would be a valuable resource
for the meeting's use and for inclusion in the holdings of the
and tapes that record recollections of older members, programs
of important events in the life of the meeting, and the like,
are also of value and interest. Some may warrant permanent preservation
in the meeting's archives or at one of the Quaker libraries.
should make it a practice to remind members at monthly meeting of
the importance of turning in items of historical significance.
Where to deposit records
Services Group urges each meeting within Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
to select either the Quaker
Collection of the Haverford College Library or the Friends
Historical Library of Swarthmore College as its official repository.
They are maintained under archival conditions and are organized,
described and interpreted by professional staff members who understand
the Quaker context of their origin.
and related records kept by the clerk or recording clerk:
The Records Services Group recommends that meetings deposit their
original minutes, committee minutes, financial records, etc. every
three to five years or whenever there is a change of the clerk
responsible for keeping the records. The meeting may wish to retain
a photocopy for local use.
When to deposit records
records: The meeting recorder generally files separately
the record forms for those whose membership has ended for whatever
reason (death, transfer, resignation). The ceased membership
file should be deposited once every five to ten years.
historical materials: Historical materials should be deposited
as soon as the meeting no longer needs them. Meeting histories,
etc., should be deposited when produced.
How to deposit records
send their records to their repository by registered mail or by
any delivery service that maintains a tracking system (UPS, FedEx,
etc.). Call ahead if depositing in person to ensure that the library
will be open. Be sure to include a return address; the receiving
library will issue a receipt for all records received.
modern archival practice, important original documents are usually
safeguarded by not allowing researchers actually to handle them
physically. Instead, users inspect the records on microfilm and
ask for hard copies of those pages they want to take home. These
pages are then printed from the film. That is why meeting records
entrusted to either the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore
College or the Quaker Collection at Haverford College should be
microfilmed. Minutes of business meetings and records of vital statistics
are used most heavily by researchers and are the first priority
for filming. Ideally four copies are produced: a preservation archival
master, which is kept as archival record; a printing master used
to make additional service copies; and two service copies, one for
each of the depository libraries, to be used for research. The depositing
meeting will usually pay for the making of three copies, while the
additional service copy is paid for by the Records Committee from
a special fund.
The basic cost
for making 3 microfilm copies currently averages $.20-$.25 a page,
depending on a number of factors. Assuming that your meeting generates
50 pages of business minutes and vital statistics a year, the cost
would come to between $10 and $12.50 per year. The Records Committee
recommends that your records be deposited at either library every
3 to 5 years but that filming take place every 10 years so that
each reel will be more filled. Otherwise a meeting's records could
be scattered across several reels. Archivists at Haverford and Swarthmore
will cooperate with each monthly meeting to determine when enough
of its records have accumulated to make a reel and will provide
an estimate of the total cost.
find the cost of microfilming prohibitive may then request assistance
from the Records Committee. Please note that the Quaker depositories
at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges contribute the costs of preparing
the materials for filming (no inconsiderable expense), for coordination
with the vendor and for quality control of the microfilming. (Approved
by the Records Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1997)
permission to copy the records of the constituent meetings of Philadelphia
Yearly Meeting (i.e. monthly meeting records) remains with the individual
meeting. The Records Services Group encourages monthly meetings
to grant permission for microfilm copies for legitimate scholarly
use or for deposit in local historical societies. Staff of the repositories
are happy to help meetings handle requests for duplicate microfilm.
(For further details see the Policy
on the Reproduction of the Records of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.)
Confidentiality and restrictions
Services Group has developed a policy for restricting for 75 years
access to certain categories of records that would affect the privacy
rights of individuals. Records covered by this policy include Worship
and Ministry and Overseers minutes, clerks' correspondence, personnel
files, social service case files, donor files, student files, medical
records, etc. Meetings can suggest additional categories of records
for which restrictions may be suitable. No meeting should refrain
from maintaining or depositing records for fear of confidentiality
issues. For further information, contact the Clerk of the Records
Services Group or the appropriate repository.
Staff of the
repositories serve as liaisons to the Records Services Group and
are happy to assist monthly meetings in the preservation of their
records. Click on their names for more information, including hours
of service, telephone numbers, and staff listings
College, Quaker Collection
College, Friends Historical Library
are in the process of developing a joint, online series of finding
aids to help Clerks and Recorders know what records are available
and where they are deposited. This resource is still very incomplete,
but work is proceeding with an estimated completion date of 3/2005.
For a sample, please click on: