Research Policies and Fees

Disciples of Christ Historical Society is the guardian of the Stone-Campbell tradition’s spiritual memory as well as the institutional memory of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The books and archival documents in its custody cover more than two centuries, documenting the origins and evolution of the Disciples of Christ and the history of churches in all three streams of the Stone-Campbell heritage. Every item requires very careful handling and storage, both to prevent deterioration and to preserve for future generations. Researchers have the opportunity to hold and study materials that are unique. Both you as researcher and DisciplesHistory as keeper of the historic record, play essential roles in their preservation and security.

We serve the information needs of anyone who is interested in the contents of the collections housed in the Library and Archives and who agrees to abide by the conditions for use established for the long-term preservation of the materials.

Research assistance is available to paying members of the Historical Society, student members, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations researching their own history, and ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  The amount of research time available is determined by membership level. See "Research Time" below.

Access Policy

Beginning January 1, 2014, access to the official records, 1968-present, of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will require the written permission and signature of both the President of Disciples of Christ Historical Society and the President of the General Ministry, Office of General Minister and President, or Region whose records are requested.  In 1968, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) officially became a denomination – in a process generally known as Restructure – and all decisions and actions documented in the records since that date stem from that momentous transition.

The purpose of this revision of the Access Policy for the Archives of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is to reduce the Church’s exposure to risk from the disclosure of personal and organizational confidences, and to fulfill our role as record-keepers in safeguarding the juxtaposition of privacy rights, property law, and copyright.

It should also be noted that federal statutes such as the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 do not apply to religious institutions, although researchers often have the expectation that they do.  In effect, we are simply expanding the definition of “active record.”

Traditionally, the Church’s trust in us is rooted in our professional ability to devise and implement systems for the appraisal, selection and filtering, organizing, describing, retrieving and preserving documentation.  Now, however, as archivists of religious records, we are in the position to attain a new level of trust and become partners within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) by helping to navigate the massive historical and cultural upheaval the Church is undergoing in the face of modern society’s struggle to define the boundaries between human agency (the private) and the community (the public).  The adoption of this Access Policy is an important step in establishing that level of trust and partnership.

Research Time

Submitting A Research Request

Researchers must submit either:

  • an In-Person Research Request if they wish to conduct their research on-site at the Archives in Nashville. In-person research request must be submitted at least two weeks in advance.
     
  • a Remote Research Request for research services conducted via email.

Please submit only one research request at a time. Research inquiries are processed as they are received (whether received by mail, email, telephone or fax).

If the request is more complex than can be answered in 2 hours of research, researchers must visit in person to complete their research. In some cases, the Society’s staff may be able to locate an independent researcher for people who are not able to make an on-site visit.

Researchers should bear in mind the restrictions on photocopying and publication imposed by the Copyright Act of 2003. It is the researcher’s responsibility to determine the copyright status and obtain the necessary permission before publication of material from the Society’s collections. (Please see Copyright Information.)

If you need your research completed in less than 4 weeks, a one-time rush fee of $50.00 will be charged.

NOTE: The research does not guarantee a result.

Citations

The preferred citation for any document or photograph published by the researcher is:
[Name of File or Collection], Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Nashville, Tennessee.

Borrowing Privileges

Members may borrow any book of which the Society has multiple copies. The member will be billed for postage and handling and will pay return postage. Non-members may borrow a second copy of a book through the Interlibrary Loan department at their local library for a charge of $5.00 per book (plus postage & handling) which must be paid in advance to DisciplesHistory. The loan period is 1 month, with one renewal permitted.