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Caring for parish church records

Creating records

  • Registers and other records which are to be retained permanently should be written on good quality paper and in long-lasting ink. Registrar’s ink, which the registrar requires for marriage registers, is also recommended for use in other registers: it is available from Ecclesiastical Stationery Supplies.
  • Never use felt-tip or ball-point pens, which will fade and may stain or spread, especially in damp conditions.
  • You can keep typed or computer-printed minutes in a loose-leaf folder, but ensure every page is dated and numbered so it is clear whether all the pages for a particular meeting are present.
  • It is best not to stick typewritten copies into bound volumes. The additional bulk distorts and damages bindings, while glues and adhesive tape can also cause damage.
  • Avoid using metal staples and paperclips (which may rust), rubber bands (which will perish and stick to paper), adhesive notes, self-adhesive tape or other modern contact adhesives.
  • Any records which are to be preserved permanently are generally best stored as printed copies rather than as digital media (such as DVDs, hard drives or memory cards). This is because the longevity of such media is uncertain. Electronic records may become corrupted and software may become obsolete over time.
  • It is best to print a copy of any document that is to be permanently preserved as soon as the final version has been created. Use good quality paper and, if possible, use a laser printer rather than an ink-jet printer. The ink in laser printers is generally more stable and less vulnerable to ‘running’ if paper gets damp.