In July 2014 the Moravian Archives submitted a grant application to the National Endowment for the Humanities to help us assess the records from the Moravian Church in the Eastern West Indies, housed at the Bethlehem Archives. Encompassing over 120 linear feet, these materials serve scholars, genealogists, and pastors as primary sources for the history of Caribbean missions and congregations. Additionally, they serve as an invaluable resource, shedding light on slavery in the Caribbean and the general history of the Eastern West Indies (EWI).
These records were transferred to Bethlehem in the late 1960s after being housed for many years in a tropical climate. Many of the records suffer from conditions such as iron gall ink degradation, paper brittleness, and insect damage. A large percentage of the collection is in such poor shape that it can no longer be used.
The grant will help us assess these records and plan for their future treatment. With the help of a team of historians we hope to prioritize the material in order to decide what needs to be preserved first. The Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia will estimate the costs for preservation and digitization.