The Brethren, Christian groups which trace their roots back to the baptisms of Alexander Mack and his friends at Schwarzenau, Germany in 1708, started publishing periodicals in the 1850’s. These old publications contain a wealth of theological, genealogical and historical information. These documents are not widely available to researchers because of their rarity and fragility. Modern digitization methods would allow these old documents to be widely available for research worldwide.

The Brethren Digital Archives group has held meetings since September 24, 2007 exploring possibilities for digitizing the old Brethren periodicals. At our meeting on June 3, 2009 at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives, Elgin, IL, we adopted the following mission statement:

The mission of the Brethren Digital Archives is to digitize with maximum searchability Brethren periodicals produced from the beginning of publication to the year 2000.

We further acted to include all periodicals from the beginning of publication to 1880 in Phase 1 of the project.

Obviously this is a major undertaking and will involve some major expenses. We intend to seek grant funding but we anticipate some start-up expenses as well. Such expenses include mailing, conference calling for those who are unable to attend meetings, etc.

This project has received broad interest and support from many Brethren Archives, Libraries, Publishers and other interested persons. If you are interested in the work of the Brethren Digital Archives, please feel free to contact us.