The closure period for records of Circuits in this area (except confidential records) is generally 30 years except Dudley and Netherton Circuit where the closure period is 50 years
Methodist records which the depositor feels are of a confidential or a sensitive nature, such as complaints, discipline records, interviews, invitations, stationing, pastoral matters, case studies and assessment files, should have a restriction of 75 YEARS ON ACCESS. However, this is still variable at the discretion of the depositor or his/her successor.
All other material, except that which has already been made public should have a restriction of 30 YEARS ACCESS on it, again variable at the discretion of the depositor or his/her successor. Material which was deposited under the old 50 year rule should remain under that rule, unless the depositor has varied it, but Record Offices should assume that the depositor is likely to agree to changing from 50 to 30 as a general principle, though such permission, which can be blanket ("all material deposited under the 50 year rule should now be opened after 30 years"), must still be obtained from the depositor.
Public material may be seen by anyone at any time. Public material includes all Circuit Plans, newsletters, services of worship, reports of public meetings, photographs of the interiors and exteriors of churches, books, pamphlets, leaflets, hymn/song books, newpaper reports and advertisements, and financial accounts which have been made public through, for example, being printed in the circuit plan or church newsletter. There is no restriction on material which has been made public.
The Depositors or the records, or their successors or representatives, also have the right of access at any time, to all records. It may be necessary for such a researcher to prove him/herself to be the Superintendent Minister of the relevant Circuit (this can be checked by reference to a current Minutes of Conference, Synod Directory or circuit plan), or to have written authority from the Superintendent Minister of the relevant Circuit or the Depositor.
Where a Minute Book or similar record falls partly in and partly out of the 75 or 30 year rule, the Record Office may use its judgement as whether the open parts should be made available. If the records, e..g. correspondence can be easily separated then the open material should made available. In the case of a disciplinary minute book and the 75 year rule however, it should only be made available with the specific written permission of the Depositor for that individual reader. The 30 (or 50) year rule, however, is less significant and may be varied at the Record Office's discretion and the reader asked to stop at the relevant date.
E. Dorothy Graham (Connexional Archives Liaison Officer)
John H. Lenton (Convenor of the Archives & History Committee)