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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A comparative study of the record keeping practices of the Anglican, Baptist and United churches in British Columbia Sweeney, Shelley Toni


The report entitled Canadian Archives (1980) speaks of a future Canadian archival "system" in which archives of government, business, and institutions are to be bound together through networking. Although churches are to be a part of this system, the Report does not specify their role. Yet the professional world of both archivists and historians in Canada, the United States, and Britain, has been divided over the question of custody of religious archives. Whether the churches themselves are expected to care for their own archives or whether public archives are expected to take up systematic and regular acquisition of religious archives will seriously affect the role of churches in the future development of the Canadian archival system. This thesis then addresses the question of how best to go about preserving religious archives by studying in detail the record keeping attitudes and practices of the Anglican, Baptist, and United Churches in British Columbia. Through a survey of church government and archival programmes, we delve into the nature of the relationships between creator and record. As well as examining the record keeping practices of the three churches, the survey touches upon the policies of secular, public archives in British Columbia towards church archives. The thesis then analyzes the backgrounds of the churches in Europe and in early British Columbia in order to determine why discernible differences exist in the record keeping of the three denominations. In conclusion, the thesis notes that the attitudes and practices of churches with regards to their records are affected by their theology and organization. On the one hand, such fundamental determinants, it is argued, are not easily overcome by public archives which set out to collect religious archives. On the other, those churches which have mounted archival programmes demonstrate a networking capability that so far exceeds that of the secular archival world. In any case, church archives appear destined to play a vital role in any future systematization of Canadian archives.

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