Thursday 1 December 2022

Finding archival homes for CoI primary school records

A new policy has been introduced by the Representative Church Body Library to guide Church of Ireland primary schools in how to best keep and share archived information about their work and service. This follows lengthy discussions with all organisations involved, and in consultation with the Secretary of the General Synod Board of Education.

Miss Stella Greer’s class at Killeigh School, Co Offaly c1931
RCB Library P48.28.1

The document – A Policy for the Appropriate Custody of Primary School Records – has been produced with the aim of promoting awareness about the importance of primary school records and their value as a reference tool for a variety of legal, educational, historical and social purposes in the future, and seeks to ensure that the schools management take the correct steps to arrange and safeguard these materials.

This is particularly relevant where records have ceased to be used in the day-to-day administration of a school, or in circumstances where a school is due to close or has already closed.

While the RCB Library is concerned about the preservation of these records, the Library is not itself the custodian of primary school records and is not responsable for the long-term storage of such records.

The Library has, however, been in discussion with colleagues in the National Archives of Ireland and the Local Government Archivists and Records Managers (LGARM) Group representing archivists and records managers at local government level. LGARM has confirmed that it is happy to facilitate requests from any Board of Management or Patron of a Church of Ireland primary school wishing to deposit their collections in a local authority archive service, subject to available storage and these services being considered as the first place of deposit for these collections.

Each school is to be responsible for arranging the collection prior to its transfer to the local archive. For example, all registers, roll books, daily attendance books, District Inspector’s observation books, organiser’s observation books, and corporal punishment books could be sorted chronologically. LGARM members are particularly interested in acquiring any extant school photographs as these records can be made available without restriction.

Many local government archives have already been acquiring these collections for a number of years. In the case of local authorities with no archivist, the group recommends that the National Archives of Ireland might be considered as the temporary custodian of these collections until such time as a local authority archive has been established or that suitable storage has been identified.

The policy is available in the Parish Resources section of RCB Library, here.