Workshops for archivists

26th August 2014
Sr Brigid Rose Tiernan with Mrs Florence Fenn ran the first workshop of this nature we have had. It was well attended and much appreciated.



The QUESTIONS and EXPECTATIONS of participants which informed much of the content of the workshop were:

  • To learn something about archive work;
  • How to arrange/categorize/classify;
  • Annals – how to encourage sisters to produce these – how to make them alive;
    Who is responsible for compiling community annals?
  • What to keep: we suggested – duplicates are destroyed and the best copy of any document / book kept. Who decides what to keep? The archivist has a responsibility here…and some policy is useful for any archives.
  • How long to keep information? we had available a document with information about how long various kinds of documents are kept;
  • What to do with ‘gaps’ in information? This is an ongoing challenge for those working in Archives.
  • Different media and forms of information: books, documents, CDs and DVDs, videos, artefacts… We had initial discussions about all of this, and realise we all need more information about digitalisation processes. Storing copies (once information has been captured / scanned into a computer) on an external hard drive, or ‘in the cloud’ (cf www. is very important.
  • School Magazines: where to put these? The Archive principle of PROVENANCE is a guide here.
  • What is confidential and needs to be locked away – who has access to confidential information (e.g. Council / Team meeting minutes). We were able to clarify some of these areas for one another.
  • What happens to our Archives in the future? We shared information about some possible options here: with a local University Archives; in a place like Document Wharehouse (Gauteng and KZN)….


  1. As the workshop was held at St Vincent’s, Melrose, we were able to have an onsite visit two different Congregational Archives, housed here, one very well developed (the King OPs) and one ‘work in progress’ (SNDs). The onsite visits enabled us to see the Data Bases being used, and the different categorisation systems. Acid-free boxes and files, and where to purchase these, were also among the resources shared.
  2. The value of ‘dedicated space’ for housing Archive material – and some of us have this already – became obvious, as well as the need for those working in Archives to have the time to do what the work requires. Setting up and maintaining an Archives also requires a budget.
  3. Other information shared with those attending the workshop included: Guidelines for Archivists of what information should be collected currently, and example of an Archive Mission Statement and Access Policy, Record retention and Electronic Files


Our time together helped us realise again how valuable are the lives and work of all who have gone before us in Religious Life in Southern Africa and the responsibility we have to preserve and make this available for those who may follow in our footsteps, in the local Church and among the People of God. We were inspired by the words:

(Author unknown, but inscribed on a stone outside the National Archives in Harare)