Preparing For Your Scheduled Research Visit

Appointments are required for in-house researchers. You must submit the Researcher Appointment Request Form at least three business days in advance of your planned visit. This is to allow time for scheduling, to gather requested collection materials, and to best serve your research needs.

Our Reading Room is space for researchers of all backgrounds to interact with our collections and receive assistance from our Archival staff. The below policies are outlined to benefit our community and to allow you to make the most out of your visit.

Upon Arrival

You may use one of the lockers outside the reading room to store personal items. The only items allowed in the Reading Room are:

  • Cell phone (on silent)
  • Laptops or tablets (out of their cases)
  • Pencils
  • Non-professional photography equipment
  • Headphones and/or earbuds

We will provide you with pencils and paper if you would like to take notes. Food, drink, gum, candy, and ink pens are prohibited. All bags, including purses, backpacks, briefcases, laptop bags, etc., must be kept in your locker.

Care and Handling

During your first visit, you will receive a more detailed care and handling primer from Archives staff, and you will receive a refresher on subsequent visits. Below are some general guidelines. Please remember that nearly every item you touch during your research visit is the only one that exists in the world, and if something happens to it then it is lost forever. These care and handling rules are in place to prevent the loss of valuable information resources.

When handling documents and books, you must have dry, clean, hands; you must wear provided gloves when handling photographs, maps, and ephemera objects. There is a restroom located next to the Reading Room where you may wash your hands before your visit.

Do not write on materials or take notes on top of materials.

Please keep items with their original folders and boxes. Items should be requested and referenced according to their title and date, and their box and folder’s name and number.

Reprographic Services and Permissions

It is recommended that you review our policies on reprographic services and permissions in advance of your visit. Even if you do not plan on requesting copies or obtaining permission to publish, your plans may change in the course of your research.



The Moravian Archives of the Southern Province provides access to our holdings according to best practices and standards in the field of library science. Our policy is based on Principles of Access to Archives published by the Committee on Best Practices and Standards Working Group on Access for the International Council on Archives.

The Moravian Archives holds records and papers with significant value for understanding social, economic, religious, community, and personal history, and providing public access helps protect rights and benefits public interests. Access helps maintain institutional transparency and credibility, improves public understanding of the Moravian Church, Southern Province’s unique history and its contributions to society, and helps the Moravian Church, Southern Province fulfill its social responsibility to share information for the public good.

The Moravian Archives provides the widest possible access to our holdings while recognizing and accepting the need for some restrictions. Restrictions on our holdings have been imposed by federal and state regulations, the Moravian Church in America, Southern Province, the Moravian Archives, and/or the donor of the material in the case of personal papers.

Materials can be restricted for a number of reasons, but primarily, the Moravian Archives restricts records due to organization representative or donor request, preservation concerns, and protection of privacy. Records are not restricted by a number of years as a matter of routine.

Organization Representative/Donor Imposed Restrictions

Representatives of congregations, boards, and institutions of the Moravian Church in America, Southern Province (“organization representative”) and donors may request that the Moravian Archives restrict portions of the materials they are transferring or donating. The details of the restrictions should be worked out between the organization representative or donor and Director prior to the physical transfer of the materials. The restrictions should be described as explicitly as possible in the records transfer form or deed of gift and should always include an expiration date. Archival staff will have access to restricted material for the purposes of accessioning and processing but should keep information about the documents strictly confidential.


In some cases, original material may be too fragile for general access in the reading room and should be restricted. Archives staff should deny transfer or donation of such materials if they determine, during a preservation assessment, that they do not have the resources to properly treat and house the items. When possible, Archives staff will create surrogate copies of documents restricted for preservation concern to provide access to patrons. Physical media containing sound and video/film recordings or born digital files are always restricted from use by patrons. Patrons may examine the physical media but may not access content via the original items. When possible, Archives staff will create surrogate copies of the contents recorded on the physical media to provide access to patrons.

Protection of Privacy

Archival collections record the operations of organizations or record an individual’s life. They can include documentation of very public accomplishments, as well as personal relationships, life events, and historically motivated decisions. While restricted information or document types should be identified at the time of acquisition and outlined in the deed of gift or record transfer form, there are cases when Archives staff may identify confidential material in the course of working with a collection. There are important legal and ethical distinctions between information that is considered confidential and that which may be private or sensitive.

Confidential records: Any records that must be restricted from public access for a period of time to ensure compliance with legal or statutory regulations. Examples include third party student records (FERPA), personnel records, some medical records (HIPAA), social security numbers, and privileged attorney-client, doctor-patient, or clergy communications.

Private information: May include categories of information that a donor or organizational representative wishes to restrict for a period of time, such as correspondence with a particular individual, financial information, or records of or about a third party.

To the best of our ability and the extent that is reasonable based on the level of processing, Archives staff reviews collection material for records containing confidential information and redacts, removes, or otherwise restricts these documents. In addition to confidential records, we also make every reasonable attempt to locate and redact or restrict any material stipulated in the donor agreement or record transfer form. While Archives staff make every good faith effort to identify this information in the records, the nature of archival processing is to deal with records in the aggregate, and Archives staff are not in a position to examine or inspect every document. Archivists are trained in document analysis and can generally identify series or portions of a collection that are the most likely to contain confidential information and will concentrate efforts on those groups.

The legal right to privacy ends with an individual’s death. Restrictions on social security numbers, grade sheets, or other potentially confidential records can be lifted at the end of a person’s life, and we will not redact this information about deceased individuals.

Generally, staff does not evaluate collection contents for subjectively sensitive information. Staff will not restrict material without a request from the organizational representative, donor, or an affected third party, or outside of accordance with Provincial policy or state and federal statute.

Treatment of Restricted Material

When materials have been designated as restricted, Archives staff will:

  1. Physically isolate restricted documents from the rest of the collection and clearly label the boxes as restricted;
  2. Create access copies and surrogates for fragile material when possible;
  3. Describe the restricted items as fully as possible in the finding aid, including container lists and appropriate narrative description. In cases where the donor may not want information about restrictions to be made public, describe the material as normal in the internal copy of the finding aid and redact it in the published finding aid;
  4. Include the types of records that are restricted, the reason for the restriction, and the date of expiration in Restrictions on Access notes;
  5. Fully document restrictions via deeds of gift, correspondence, memos, etc., in the permanent collection file.

The Moravian Archives provides all users with just, fair, and timely access to archives without discrimination. When restrictions have been imposed, those restrictions apply to everyone on the same terms. When restrictions have been lifted, the restrictions are lifted for everyone.

Audiovisual and Born Digital Material

Use copies have not been made for audiovisual and born digital material in our holdings. Researchers must contact the Moravian Archives Southern Province at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder the Archives’ ability to provide access to audiovisual material. You may request this access on our reprographic services page.