Preserving WELS history- Archives

Plans are underway to begin construction for a new WELS archives and visitor center in the lower level of the WELS Center for Mission and Ministry (CMM), Waukesha, Wis. For the first time, historical WELS documents, books, and artifacts will be stored in purpose-built space, designed to preserve and organize the synod’s history. The visitor center will feature artifacts and information about WELS history. The projected completion date is this fall.

To set up, organize, and manage the archives in its new home, WELS has hired a full-time archivist, Susan Willems, who currently manages archives processing at the University of Denver. A 2006 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee, Wis., Willems received her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Denver in 2013.

“To be the first [full-time] archivist for the synod is a huge honor,” she says. “It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s going to be a lot of fun to learn about our synod’s history.”

The archives currently reside at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary (WLS), Mequon, Wis., but the collection has outgrown the space and the facility does not have the proper climate controls for preservation. Willems’ first job will be to sort and move archive materials from WLS. Then she will organize and maintain the archives at the CMM. She says that one of her initial goals is “raising awareness about the archives in the synod and reaching out to the different districts and individual churches to make sure that they know that the archives exist and what type of material we would like them to save that we would be collecting.”

John Hartwig, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary who currently works with the archives, says, “We thank God for this long-awaited progress in providing a suitable space and staffing for our archives, and we ask for his blessings as we move forward.”



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Volume 103, Number 7
Issue: July 2016

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