A page from the memoir of Maria Salome Hessler, 1750-1821.
At the heart of the Archives’ family history studies is our large memoir collection. A Moravian memoir, known as a Lebenslauf in German, is an account – often autobiographical in part – of the life of a Gemein, or congregation, member. Important life events are recounted with special attention given to spiritual struggles and progress. Memoirs were encouraged by the founder of the renewed Moravian Church, Count Zinzendorf, as a way to “make the invisible church visible,” and many are preserved in the Archive for inspirational and instructional purposes. Not every memoir is detailed, but many are.
Our collection includes over 14,000 memoirs for individual members of the Moravian Church, Southern Province, from its beginnings in North Carolina to the present day. Several hundred additional memoirs since 2005 are being added, while some 500 18th-century memoirs await translation.
You can now browse an index of the memoirs we have housed at the Archives in this table:
If you would like to know more about any of the memoirs listed or receive a digital copy of a memoir, please complete this form:
If fulfilling your requests exceeds 30 minutes of staff time, you will be charged according to our fee schedule for Staff Research On Your Topic. Fulfillment of memoir requests will likely only exceed 30 minutes if you request a significant number of memoirs. If your request incurs other charges, such as for transcription or translation or for reprographic services (see below), and those additional fees are greater than or equal to the staff research fee, you will not be charged the research fee.
Many memoirs in German and/or in hard-to-read cursive handwriting have been translated and/or transcribed. If you request a memoir that has not been translated or transcribed, we will contact you to discuss the best way forward to fulfill your needs. This may include commissioning and funding translations and/or transcriptions, including from Archives staff. Visit the Transcriptions and Translations page for more information.
Additionally, while most memoirs have already been scanned, some have not been. Any memoir requested that has not previously been scanned will fall under the fee schedule for reprographic services to offset the resources needed to make a digital surrogate of the item. This is $0.50 per page.
The Archives retains all rights to memoirs. Reproductions are made for private study and reference only. Permission of Moravian Archives, Winston-Salem is required for uses exceeding this “fair use.” Researchers acknowledge that they are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials they use.