Congregational Archives

(Bryan Diamond, Archivist of the LJS for 20 years and Hon. Archivist of Liberal Judaism)


The secure site should be secure and free from risk of fire, damp or flood and of equable temperature. For storage of papers, purchase acid-free archival boxes and preferably also folders. Documents are stored without plastic sleeves or sticky tape. Much information re the care of documents can now be found on the internet. A watch should be kept for insect and fungal attacks.


  • Papers should be arranged in logical categories, e.g.:
  • Minutes of the Council and Committees,
  • Newsletters & other Publications,
  • Publicity material,
  • Historical, e.g. Reminiscences,
  • Liturgical including special Orders of Service
  • Officers’ correspondence
  • Rabbinic
  • Plans of the Building and Cemetery
  • Personal data – Membership, Births, Marriages, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

The boxes should then be numbered, with a catalogue written (and an alphabetical index).

New material from the congregational office, Officers and congregants should be received in a secure manner, considered, weeded as needed and then added to the appropriate area, the catalogue being updated as needed.

The Archivist may wish to be proactive in seeking material to illustrate the history of the congregation. If short of space for older records, these can be deposited with the London Metropolitan Archive or a county record office.

Photographs should be sorted into categories, e.g. People ( Rabbis, Officers, others), Events, Buildings, put into archival  plastic sleeves and stored vertically in a filing cabinet, each with a number on the rear. The catalogue should give details of the date, subject – especially names of people shown,  size and photographer, as far as possible.

Documents and Photos in poor condition, including old fading colour prints and brittle newsprint should be scanned and the copy stored digitally and backed up.  A digital copy of important items  such as Council Minutes may also be made.  Old electronic media such as magnetic tape recordings should be digitally copied, by the Archivist or professionally.

Access to the archive material must be controlled and guidelines set for enquirers re copying and publication.

Advice and seminars can be found from the British Library Preservation Advisory Centre and The Society of Archivists Religious Archives Group.