Ballard Begins Work As New ABHS Archivist

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Ballard Begins Work As New ABHS Archivist

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 1/24/11)—After a nation-wide search, Jan Ballard began her work as the American Baptist Historical Society’s new archivist this month.

Both board members and staff who participated in the search process expressed their excitement about the rich array of experiences and skills that Jan is bringing to ABHS. As the archivist, her first priority is to familiarize herself with the record groups housed on six miles
of collection shelving—and to learn as much as possible from senior archivist Betty Layton who will retire March 31st.
Ballard will then be responsible to procure, care and share collections documenting the vast spectrum of Baptists in the United States and their contribution to American and world history.

“I couldn’t wait to start work,” said Ballard. “It’s a great honor for me to keep the documentary record of Baptist missions and ministry, and to have the opportunity to share that inspiring heritage with others.”

The pool of candidates was so rich that the search committee judged three of the four finalists “highly qualified.”

“What tipped the scales toward Jan,” explained executive director Dr. Deborah Van Broekhoven, “was her great range of library and archival experiences, including grant-writing, cataloguing rare books and handling artifacts. Like the other candidates, she is first and foremost a trained archivist. She is knowledgeable and appreciative of Baptist history and she has a passion for working with the array of missionary and church records at ABHS.”

Most recently Ballard was executive director of the Jacobsburg Historical Society in Nazareth, PA, where she was responsible not only for the archives but also the day-to-day operations of an early American industrial plantation, including a long-rifle museum, and an 1834 historic house museum. Her previous positions included work with the archives of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary; and Moravian Academy in Bethlehem, PA; and the Lehigh County (PA) Historical Society. She also served as an archival consultant for the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.

She earned her master’s degree in library science from Drexel University, with a concentration in rare books and archives. Further education has included training in museum administration from the Smithsonian Institution, and she will begin classes this semester toward a Masters of Archival Studies at Clayton State University. The program, directed by the noted Richard Pearce-Moses, a recent past president of the Society of American Archivists, focuses on the use of the Internet and other new technologies in archival work.

Founded in 1853, the American Baptist Historical Society preserves and shares its collections documenting the influence Baptists have had on religious and civic life. Its six miles of shelving hold the archives of the national mission societies of the American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., of which it is a part, the personal papers of prominent Baptist leaders, original church records, periodicals representing the world-wide Baptist press, national, state and associational published minutes from the vast array of Baptist denominations in the U.S., and books and pamphlets that are by, about, for and against Baptists. Researchers come from all over the world to from a multitude of disciplines, including American history, political science, anthropology and sociology. For more information about ABHS, including how to make a research appointment or to volunteer, visit our website at

American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.