At the unique heart of our family history studies is a collection of memoirs of over 14,000 individual members of the Moravian Church, from its beginnings in North Carolina until the present day. Several hundred additional memoirs since 2005 await scanning, while some 500 18th-century items await translation.
A Moravian memoir, known as a Lebenslauf in German, is a spiritual resume of sorts: ideally, written, reviewed, and revised by a member throughout his or her life, then shared with the congregation upon their passing, and gathered in our Archives. Encouraged by the founder of the renewed Moravian Church, Count Zinzendorf, as a way to “make the invisible church visible,” memoirs are a blend of autobiography, obituary, and testimony that give a wonderful amount of personal detail to long-ago lives, which may have otherwise been simply remembered by name, and birth and death dates. Not every memoir is detailed, but many early ones richly are.