Unlike libraries, there are no established systems for organizing archives. There are, however, general archival principles and established practices that the Nazarene Archives follows. A general understanding of our approach can assist researchers in using the archives and its finding aids.
- Items belonging to the same collection do not need to be located next to each other on the shelf, provided they are listed together in the inventory. This gives flexibility in adding to the inventory, and it increases the ability to store collections more efficiently.
- An archives does not arrange its collections topically or by subject, but according to who produced the collection. Many Nazarene Archives collections were produced by agencies or officers of the church. The order in which collections are listed is based on a flow chart determining the relationship of these agencies and offices to one another. The Nazarene Archives inventory moves from the most general levels of the church (beginning with the General Assembly collections—the 200 Series) to the most particular ones, ending with collections centered around individual church members (the 1200 Series).
- The records of church agencies are kept in their original order or restored to their original order. The archives does not rearrange a collection or impose an order upon it unless the original order is lost and cannot be reconstructed.
- When a church officer held more than one position in the church, all of his or her records are listed together in one place in the inventory, under the department where the individual’s highest office was held. Appropriate cross-references are placed at other parts of the inventory where the individual also held office.