The Brethren Digital Archives committee met on April 23 at the Brethren Heritage Center in Brookeville, Ohio. The group is guiding a project to digitize Brethren periodicals and publications.
In attendance were Terry Barkley, Virginia Harness, Larry Heisey, Eric Bradley, Gary Kocheiser, Liz Cutler Gates, Steve Bayer, as well as Jeff Bach and Jeanine Wine via conference call. Three different Brethren groups were represented at the meeting: Church of the Brethren, Grace Brethren, and Old German Baptist Brethren. The Dunkard Brethren are also involved in the project, but unfortunately their representative was unable to attend this meeting.
Periodicals to be scanned for the archive from the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) in the next phase of the project include “The Brethren’s Missionary Visitor,” “Der Bruderbote,” “The Gospel Messenger,” and the “Progressive Christian.” Other periodicals will be scanned from various institutions, including Bridgewater (Va.) College and Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.
The most extensive undertaking will be “The Gospel Messenger,” which is bound by year in 82 volumes, many of which are oversized. The group also hopes to include the various Brethren almanacs in the digitization project at some point in the future.
This is the second phase of periodicals to be digitized. The hope is to scan from originals, as in Phase 1, but some periodicals may have to be scanned from microfilm.
Check out the publications already available in the online archive at http://archive.org/details/brethrendigitalarchives . Periodicals can be read online, or downloaded in a variety of forms including PDF. The text is searchable, and there is an audio component to hear the text read out loud.
Some funds remain from Phase 1, but additional fundraising efforts will be needed to meet the needs of this next phase. The committee plans to meet again in March of next year.
— Virginia Harness is archival intern for the Brethren Historical Library and Archives at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.