The Passionist Historical Archives St. Paul of the Cross Province Archival Policies Statement
Following is our final segment of the Policy Statement for your information. (See the previous segments in the Winter 1994 and Spring 1994 editions of the newsletter.) A policy statement is the basic organizational tool of every archives. It defines the mission and objectives of the archives, the scope of its activities, the nature of its collections, the authority under which it operates and the services it provides to its clients. Our Policy Statement has been reviewed and approved by Very Rev. Fr. Provincial and therefore has the force of a Provincial directive.
Morgan P. Hanlon, C.P.
V Access Policy
- It is the policy of the Archives normally to grant access to all who seek it within the limits of Passionist particular law, canon, and civil law consistent with the protection of legitimate rights to privacy and confidentiality. There are, however, certain priorities among users and levels of access which will be maintained. Since the Archives is primarily intended as an instrument for Provincial administration, the Provincial, his Council and staff will be given priority to the resources of the Archives and its staff. After them, access will be granted according to the following priority: local Superiors and other Province officeholders (e.g. Pastors and Retreat Directors), members of the Province of St. Paul of the Cross, members of other Provinces, and finally the public at large. The term “access” is understood to mean admission to the Reading Area of the Archives for the purpose of research. “Access” also means that the staff will respond, whenever able, to reasonable telephonic inquiries. No one, other than staff members, is ever permitted into the Stack Room, nor is “browsing” ever permitted. Access will be granted to minors only when, in the judgment of the Archivist, they are mature enough to be entrusted with the material they wish to research. Retrieval and restorage of files will be done only by a staff member.
- Researchers who desire to utilize the facilities of the Archives are required to read, agree to and sign the Archives Form APPLICATION FOR RESEARCH USE (6/92). Access to certain collections may be restricted or denied, in whole or in part, according to the judgment and determination of the Archivist. The Archivist or other staff member will interview each researcher and engage in “question negotiation,” i.e. a dialogue in which both parties endeavor to clarify and focus more precisely the exact area of the researcher’s interest. The purpose of “question negotiation” is to enable the archivist to better assist the researcher and avoid aimless searching in the stacks. In addition researchers will be able to use various kinds of “Finding Aids” which are kept in the Reading Room.
- Most archives, including the Passionist Historical Archives, control their records at the box or container level. “Finding Aids” will indicate the type of records to be found in each box but not the specific contents. Researchers, therefore, will be made aware that they will be provided with finding aids and the assistance of the staff but must themselves choose the records they wish to examine and do their own research work. It should also be explained that this is normal archival practise. There are, in the Passionist Historical Archives, two exceptions to this practise. In both the CHINA COLLECTION and the FIDELIS KENT STONE COLLECTION not only is each box numbered, but every folder within each box is also numbered and the contents briefly described.
- Record boxes will be selected for examination by the researchers who will fill out one of the call slips available in the Reading Room. The boxes chosen will be brought from the Stacks to the Reading Room by a staff person who will record box numbers and times. When the boxes are retrieved and restored in the Stacks, they will be inspected and the time noted. No more than two boxes at a time will be made available. No more than two file folders from a given box may be open on the table at one time. This restriction is imposed to prevent the possibility of misfiling papers in a box and of misfiling folders between boxes. If this should happen, the document or the file folder is effectively lost.
- No researcher shall ever be left unattended while in the Reading Room and in possession of documents which are the property of the Archives.
VI Generating Community Records
- The Provincial, in consultation with local Superiors and the Archivist, shall determine which records of local Communities are to be transferred to and preserved in the Archives. Financial documents of local communities will not be transferred, but some legal documents (titles to property, deeds of gift, etc.) may be if it is deemed that the Archives offers a more secure environment. Before this consultation takes place, local Superiors should consult local legal counsel since State laws vary considerably.
- Number 108, paragraph i, of our General Regulations prescribes ten categories of records which must be kept in every local Community, among them “the chronicles of the house, known as the ‘platea’.” The Superior of each local Community will appoint a member of his Community to fulfill the functions of Chronicler to record and document significant happenings in the local Community and even in the local region when such events impact upon the Community. The Chronicles shall record the events by calendar year; and at the close of the year, they should be sent to the Archives for preservation, items of interest would be the comings and goings of Community members, hospitalizations, Community celebrations of liturgical Feasts, members’ anniversaries, transfers, deaths, etc.
- In addition to the Chronicles, Number 108, paragraph h, of the General Regulations prescribes that a register of apostolic activities undertaken by the local Community shall be kept, similar to the old “Book of Missions and Retreats,” not limited to them alone. This register or record shall also be sent to the Archives when the book is full. A copy may be retained locally.
- Each local Community of the Province is further encouraged to establish a collection of materials which will document the history of that Foundation. The example of St. Paul’s Monastery in Pittsburgh is a model of what can be accomplished and of its value to the whole Province. The Archives staff will gladly assist and advise any community which wishes to establish its own local “mini-archives.”