Our History, Governing Commission, and Staff

The Archives House, 1948


Arriving as German-speaking immigrants, building a faith-centered community at the mid-eighteenth-century American frontier, Moravians kept detailed records in order to maintain ties with Church leadership in both Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Herrnhut, Germany. In diaries of church and daily life, reports from missionary work with the Cherokees, and life stories of a community of church members, Moravians recorded their living witness to the surrounding world.

The Moravian Archives is the official repository for records of the Moravian Church in America, Southern Province. The Province includes Moravian churches and fellowships in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. Our records begin with the establishment of the first southern Moravian settlement in 1753 at Bethabara, NC (now part of Winston-Salem), and continue until present day.

Keeping records as an archive was first mentioned in Church records in 1762. It houses over 3,000 linear feet (the equivalence of 3,000 standard bankers boxes) of records and personal papers. The collections, including a significant portion written in manuscript German, document not just the Church and religious life, but reflect the total community in which the Church took root in Piedmont North Carolina. Our collections include the records of industrial, commercial, civic, ecclesiastical, educational, medical, and musical institutions. We also preserve personal diaries and correspondence, ethnographic materials, prints, broadsides, photographs, and maps. We maintain a research library of 1,600 titles, many from the eighteenth century.

Eleven individuals have served as official Archivist for the Southern Province, beginning with Adelaide L. Fries in 1911. The position was an unpaid post, funded for expenses only, until 1985. Archive materials were kept in a Liberty Street warehouse in the early twentieth century until being moved to the former Vorsteher’s House at Bank and Main Streets in 1942. Since 2001, the Archives has been housed at the Archie K. Davis Center, a state-of-the-art facility located between the main offices of the Southern Province and God’s Acre graveyard at the northern edge of Old Salem.

The Archives serves, on site and remotely, more than 500 users a year. We assist in over 150 genealogical inquires annually and provide resources and reference services to students in K-12, seminary, and undergraduate and graduate degree studies. We have fostered numerous doctoral dissertations and masters theses. We have also published our own books and monographs on the history of the Church community.

Archivist C. Daniel Crews and Moravian Music Foundation Director Nola Reed Knouse inspecting the acquisition of a 1615 Unity of the Brethren Czech hymnal, one of only three known copies in the United States


Adelaide L. Fries
Douglas L. Rights
Edwin A. Sawyer
Grace L. Siewers
Geraldine B. Eggleston
Mary Creech
Thomas J. Haupert
C. Daniel Crews
Richard W. Starbuck
J. Eric Elliott
Meaghan O’Riordan (Director)


Current Staff

Sabrina Garity, Assistant Director
Cindy Lamb, Archives Operations Coordinator

Archives Commission

The Archives Commission was restructured in June of 2022. The new structure includes the president of the Provincial Elders Conference, to whom the archivist reports; two members who are clergy/Christian educators; two members who are laity; a representative of the Provincial Elders Conference; a representative of the Salem Congregation board; and the president of the new Friends of the Moravian Archives. The Commission meets bimonthly, and its responsibilities include developing and following bylaws such that the mission of the Archives, the acquisition, and preservation of church records, is fulfilled; and ensuring sufficient resources to meet this constitutional mandate.

Heather Fearnbach
John Jackman (Chair)
Paul Knouse
Karl Kapp
Keith Kapp
Neil Routh
I.B. Southerland

Clergy/Christian education representative
Laity representative
Clergy/Christian education representative
President, Friends of the Moravian Archives
Laity representative
Provincial Elders Conference representative
President, Provincial Elders Conference
Salem Congregation representative