Policies and Procedures

Archive books

The joint Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives and the Archives of Messiah University has a number of policies and procedures in place to maintain fair, ethical, and careful use of the collections. These policies pertain both to researchers using the collections in the reading room (on-site) and those who use our online catalog or contact the archives with research inquires and requests (offsite).


Getting Started

First and foremost, researchers should make certain that their research topic has some connection to the Brethren in Christ Church (formerly "River Brethren") or Messiah University. We receive many requests each year for research that pertains to denominations with similar names. For a helpful guide to Brethren groups, click here. Links to historical agencies of related denominations can be found on the Links page.

Researchers should review the Collections page of our website to determine which, if any, materials may be of use in their respective project. The director can also help to determine which collection(s) may be of use. Use the Contact Us link on the right-hand side of the page or click here to contact the archives staff.


Researchers wishing to do on-site research are strongly encouraged to contact the archives staff prior to their visit. (Read more about our hours here.) When site visits are not possible, limited research assistance is available by e-mail, phone, or postal mail. 

Rules for Use 

By definition, materials housed in the archives are unique and require special care. To aid preservation efforts, the majority of our collections are stored in acid-free containers within a climate-controlled environment.

We expect researchers to handle materials carefully, in accordance with the following policies and guidelines, so that current and future generations will benefit form the information and insights of the past.

  • Upon arrival, researchers are required to fill out the researcher registration form and sign the guestbook.
  • Archival materials (including books and journals) may not be removed from the reading room. Exceptions may be made for special circumstances, as determined by the director.
  • Food and beverages are not permitted in the reading room.
  • Material should be handled with care. Documents should not be written on or otherwise damaged. Maintain the filing order and original location when viewing individual items in a collection.

Photocopying and Reproduction

The archives has also developed policies and procedures related to photocopying and reproduction, as follows:

  • Limited amounts of material may be photocopied if the physical condition of the item permits and if copyright restrictions are not violated.
  • Photocopying is free for church- and university-related business. All other requests are 10 cents/page.
  • Laptop computers, personal scanners, and digital cameras may be used in the reading room.
  • Researchers may photograph or scan collection materials for research purposes, based on the condition of the materials and provided they do not subsequently use the digital reproductions in ways that violate copyright law or donor restrictions.
  • When reproducing or publishing original information from our collections, the researcher is responsible for obtaining permission from the owner(s) of the copy-literary rights and from the Historical Library and Archives. In publications, proper credit for source material should be given to the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives or Archives of Messiah University (Grantham, Pa.). We will gladly accept copies of unpublished papers, articles, theses, dissertations, or other works that make use of material from our collections.