From July 2017 through December 2020, Eric served as the tenth Archivist for the Moravian Archives of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America in Winston-Salem, NC.
The church’s Archives, founded in 1753 with a collection of unique German- and English-language records of the settlement of colonial North Carolina, was funded two-thirds from church sources and one-third from private gifts. When Eric began, there were four persons on full- and part-time staff. When his position was eliminated due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, there remained but a staff of one. He was able to make and meet a budget of approximately $300,000 for each of his years there.
A first charge of Eric’s was to secure the support of its major private donor [featured section image above and below]. Cherokee Nation had for ten years funded the work of the Archives to publish translated missionary records in the book series Records of the Moravians Among the Cherokees. Beginning in 2008, five volumes had been produced in the series’ first six years; but only one came out in the three years prior to Eric’s arrival. Decoupling archives’ administration from the previous Archivist’s duties allowed that series editor to complete four volumes during Eric’s tenure, and the series’ creators were honored with the 2020 Samuel Worcester Award for preserving Cherokee heritage.
Eric’s administrative innovations included:
- Clarity in Budgets and Administrative Procedures – Streamlined budgeting with each expense assigned a budget line, eliminating draws from general funds; made more transparent the need for increased private support to supplement shrinking church funding capacity; nearly doubled the governing Archives Commission size to ten and standardized its meeting schedule, implementing board job descriptions, mission and strategy visioning, a board planning retreat and staff performance evaluations.
- Donor Cultivation and Retention – Began an annual “Supporters Appreciation Night” social event (made into an online video for the pandemic in 2020), and worked with Moravian Ministries Foundation partners to create planned giving information and online giving options; repurposed the biannual donor newsletter with color images and visitor news and charts showing operational income and outflows, with record amount of individual giving ($43K) in 2020; scheduled a first “Archives Sunday” fundraising invitation in supporting churches.
- Merchandising – Using WordPress templates, personally re-made the Archives Web page that had sat stagnant in content for five years; added online sales for books, goods and services which netted $4K in new income in its first year.
- Customer Service – Initiated standard forms, procedure brochures and fee structures for researchers and online clients; as the facility remained closed to visitors during the pandemic, created a series of “how to” videos describing remote use of Archives created materials, and created two online trivia contests with the help of two other church agencies.
- Academic Outreach – Created a Moravian Studies Collaborative to identify and partner with individual researchers and institutional stakeholders locally who might have a interest in Moravian research; MSC met regularly in person and on Zoom, and sponsored events, including a town and gown conference (“Becoming American: Moravians and Their Neighbors, 1772-1822“), co-convened with Wake Forest University and supported by the Mellon Foundation, with over 400 participants;
- Social Media and Digital Communications – Grew interest in Archives through the introduction of daily Facebook postings and directing invitations to “follow and like” to identified site visitors (followers increased from 350 to 2600); also began a graphics-designed monthly e-mail events newsletter.
- Volunteer Engagement – Introduced a new Family History Docent program, recruiting and training a dozen volunteers in genealogy research unique to our holdings; began an annual volunteer recognition luncheon for the expanded number of Docents, volunteers and student interns.
- Community Outreach – Worked with the local garden club and council to create a series of traveling exhibits on Moravians and horticulture, getting ideas from our place outside our walls; partnered with area cultural institutions to support each other’s programming. insuring an ongoing appreciation of the value of our holdings by the community.
- Growing the Collection -reintroduced the Archives’ acquisition of secondary reference literature and created a public Book Fund to support such purchases and the creation of new Archives publications; added structure and training to the gathering and regular submission of church records for the Archives; and began a special $20,000 fund for technology (fully funded just after his departure) to replace aging equipment used to create and navigate aids to Archives holdings.
- Expanding Personal Skillsets – Attended trainings in eighteenth-century German script reading, basics of archives management, and materials preservation, sponsored by Moravian Archives Bethlehem, American Association for State and Local History, and the Northeast Document Conservation Center.