Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Friends Memorial Church Collection

When Muncie’s Friends Memorial Church celebrated their centennial in 2008 by removing the contents of a time capsule placed in the cornerstone of their building in 1908, they found an unpleasant surprise. Water had seeped in through a hole in the metal container holding the historical objects carefully placed there a hundred years before. Many of the items were damaged, mildewed, or moldy. Some seemed beyond repair or salvage.

Mrs. Pat Barnett and other members of the congregation contacted John Straw in the University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections to see what might be done to preserve these valuable relics of the church’s past. John Straw and Maren L. Read, Archivist for Manuscript Collections, paid a visit to inspect the items and provide professional advice.

The result was a collaborative project between the Friends Memorial Church and the University Libraries to digitize the contents of the time capsule and make them available in the Digital Media Repository ( The same was done for other items in the church’s archives and for materials in the Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections about the history of the church.

The Friends Memorial Church Collection is now available online at the following address: Items in the digital collection include photographs, a handwritten church roster from 1906, the building contract, histories, directories, reports, and issues of the Muncie Evening Press and the Muncie Evening Star with articles and photographs about the church. The water damage done to the items is apparent in several of the digital images.

The Friends congregation held their first meeting in 1876. The first meetings were in a private home north of the Courthouse Square and later in a public hall above retail rooms across from the old Delaware County Courthouse in the 100 block of North High Street. The first church building was erected at Mulberry and Seymour streets in 1903, and the current church was built in 1908.

The Libraries’ collaboration with the Friends Memorial Church will continue as more items from their archives are digitized and made available over time. For more information on the Digital Media Repository, contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections,, or 765-285-5078.