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In my last blog I talked about being ‘out of space’ and listed some ways to address that problem. So my question is: Have you begun to tackle those piles of paper, that inbox full of e-mails, those online documents and/or attachments, those stacks of photos (digital or not), etc.? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Perhaps you’re waiting for someone else to do it for you – or you’re hoping that the piles will just magically disappear! Well, I’m sorry to tell you that that is probably not going to happen. So dig in and call me if you need help!

One type of record that churches often ask me about is the parish newsletter – and whether or not they must be kept. The answer to that is a simple yes! Parish and mission newsletters should be kept permanently as they provide a running history of the congregation. Just think about all the information that’s included in your typical newsletter – and you’ll see why they are such a valuable documentary source. They’re also a souce of some great one-liners – not to mention social history – such as this caption from a cartoon in Seattle, St. George’s Dragon, January 9, 1973: “It’s the women of the parish. They bake things and then sell them to each other, God knows why.”

Traditionally congregations sent copies of their newsletters to the diocese – particularly to the bishop and/or the communications office. If your congregation sent them, chances are that I have them in the archives – but this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to keep your own set. I am also ‘out of space’ and though I have some parish and mission newsletters, by no means do I have them all.

However, this is one area where technology may actually be coming to our rescue. These days many – if not most – of our congregations are publishing their newsletters online and sending them out electronically. If your congregation is doing this, I hope you’re keeping an electronic copy. Additionally, I’m asking you to please send me one as well. Just add me to your distribution list: and I’ll keep an electronic copy too! That way, we’ll be sure to maintain this important congregational resource. In addition, I hope to be able to digitize the newsletters I currently have in the archives – eventually making them available online.

There’s so much we can do with our records – so much we can learn from then. But first we have to know what we have, determine what’s important to keep, and figure out how to manage them most effectively. In other words, we need to know when to “hold’em, stow’em and throw’em” and that’s what I’m here to help you with.

So, let’s get going. No more waiting. It’s time to get organized.

Diane Wells
Archivist and Records Manager or 206-325-4200 ext. 2023

What Are You Waiting For?

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