Mennonite Historical Archives finds new home

ELSA LANTZ

Staff Writer

elsakl@goshen.edu

Goshen College’s Newcomer building will no longer be home to the Mennonite Historical Archives. Instead, they will be finding a new home in Elkhart.

Jason Kauffman is the full-time director of archives and records management for this process and is responsible for planning and overseeing the relocation of the archive collections.

Kauffman’s responsibilities include acquiring, preserving, organizing and making accessible archival materials in various formats such as paper, audiovisual, photographic and electronic among other formats. He also serves as the consultant to Mennonite Church USA (MC USA).

“One big reason [for the moving of the archives] is that we’ve outgrown available space at GC,” said Kauffman. “The move to Elkhart will enable us to bring all of our collections under one roof and establish a more sustainable budget by eliminating monthly rental payments to GC.”

According to a press release from MC USA, one such factor is a large, undeveloped section of the Elkhart office ready with minimal renovation. The Elkhart office building also has better climate control than the current location does.

The archives’ new location will be in the same facility as several church-wide agencies and organizations as well, allowing for greater collaboration between archivists and the administrators who work with the documents.

The moving of the archival collections is scheduled for Mar. 6-10, although the moving is dependent on the timely installation of the shelving system.

According to Kauffman, about 6,500 boxes will be moved from two locations of the campus: the main archives located in the Newcomer building and a remote storage on the second floor of the Westlawn building.

“About 1,000 boxes of GC collections will remain in Goshen,” said Kauffman. “I plan to enlist volunteers to help manage the logistics of unloading boxes and to put them on the right shelves when they arrive in Elkhart.”

Kauffman is looking forward to the move because of the opportunity for more daily interaction with his colleagues from MC USA and its agencies.

“I will also be glad to have collections housed in one space and under better environmental conditions,” said Kauffman. “I hope to develop new partnerships with faculty, students and staff at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and maintain established relationships with people at GC such as the Anabaptist Mennonite Digital Collaborative.”

Kauffman noted that over the years, several volunteers have supported the MC USA archives. Many of these volunteers were students from GC or residents at Greencroft communities.

“I wonder sometimes how these relationships will change after the move, and I anticipate doing a lot of work to rebuild a network of volunteers for the archives,” said Kauffman. “I’m also working with faculty and staff from GC to set aside space in Newcomer so that Goshen-based volunteers can continue their work.”

Kauffman hopes to reopen the archives sometime in April.

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