On January 3 2012 the RCB Library launched a new initiative ‘Archive of the Month’ to showcase specific collections in the library’s custody to a worldwide audience.
The RCB Library is the principal repository for Church of Ireland archives. A digital link will be available at: www.ireland.anglican.org/library/archive.
For January, the Archive of the Month will be the papers of the General Convention and its related committees which re–organised the Church following disestablishment – the separation of the Church from state control.
These document the Church’s evolutionary story at a most challenging time in its history, and reveal the thinking and strategy behind the general and diocesan synodical structures inherited today.
The collection includes minute books, resolutions, correspondence, petitions, printed and other materials and covers the period 1868–1874. A detailed catalogue of all of the materials in the collection is provided online linked to a slide show of key documents, as well as photographs of some of the bishops, clergy and laity tasked with the transition of the Church from state to private control, with general background context to the story.
A significant run of correspondence – letters and enclosures mostly addressed to the honorary secretaries of the main committees by the archbishops of Armagh and Dublin (Marcus Gervais de la Poer Beresford and Richard Chevenix Trench), other bishops as well as prominent laity in the period both before and after the passage of the Act from January 1869 to January 1870 – provide a particularly colourful insight into the personal views of the various episcopal, clerical and lay correspondents on Gladstone’s radical legislation.
They also convey a sense of a realistic acceptance of the inevitable change that the legislation would bring to the Church’s status, and the determined strategy adopted by those trying to safeguard it for the future.
The correspondence reveals much consultation and engagement with the laity, the careful path the hierarchy had to tread to keep all parties together, enabling wise and collaborative decisions to be taken to ensure the Church’s survival.
Future ‘Archives of the Month’ to be featured later in the year will include the Monegall register containing President Obama’s ancestors now transferred to the library; a rare–late 19th century collection of lantern slides featuring the Dublin University Mission in Chota Nagpur, India; images from a late–19th century Holy Land pilgrimage; digital images of 18th–century parish watch books from Dublin and lots lots more!