The Archdeacon Buckle Memorial Archive (ABMA) is in the church of St. Mary the Virgin on Craigmillar Avenue in St. John’s. It is our mandate, our reason for being, to collect, catalogue, preserve, and make available the records of our church. Only in certain instances are documents restricted. Those documents might contain sensitive and personal information.
The public uses the archive for several reasons. Most people come to an archive to search for members of their family. They may want to find the birth, marriage, or death of a relative. At ABMA we have registers of birth, marriage, and death for most parishes in our diocese. These registers date back in some instances to the late 18th century. You can call the archive to ask the archivist to search for your relative’s information. Before you call it is important to have as much information about your family member to tell the archivist as the more information you give the quicker the search will be.
ABMA has other types of documents besides church registers. We also have land deeds that show lands that belong to various parishes.
We have many minutes of church organizations such as parish councils, the ACW, the GFS, and other church groups. There are many documents related to schools such as Bishop Feild College and Bishop Spencer College. ABMA has all the publications of the church such as the Diocesan Magazine, which became the Churchman, and is now Anglican Life. The SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) documents are also housed in our archive. These documents tell the history of our church in Newfoundland and Labrador.
As we are a hierarchical church, we have the papers of all the bishops of our diocese beginning with Bishop Spencer, our first bishop to our present bishop, the Rt. Rev’d Samuel Rose. Not only from bishops, but we also have papers and books written by various parish priests. We have several of the late Archdeacon Buckle’s (Archdeacon for Labrador) books about the church in Labrador.
Among our various collections, we have many hundreds of photographs of our clergy and people. Photographs of bishops, priests, church groups, church people at work in their parishes and many pictures of our various churches and communities.
At ABMA we give the care of our documents the greatest priority. As archivist, I have always preached to parish leaders how important it is to care for their documents while being used, and when they have been filled, it is mandatory to get them to the archive. There they can be preserved and catalogued. If stored incorrectly they can deteriorate quickly and then be lost forever.