History of the archive

The archives have been a part of the library for centuries. Pastor László Balogh Dr. wrote on the 30th of July, 1971: „The archives of the Reformed Church of Kecskemet can be found on the library’s iron shelves, up until 1950. It is a perfectly dry spot. The texts are currently being boxed. […] The war has damaged many of them, many being torn, yet none of them are wet, and they are free of fungi or parasites.” As a consequence of the damage mentioned in this sentiment, the entire archives had to be reorganized. It was done by 1986 by Judit Császár (Mrs. Pungur) through funds from the Soros Foundation of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Since both the library and the archives increased in their collections over the years, the archives were moved to one of the high school’s classrooms in 2004. By 2010 the archives once again had reached its limits, and as the school required that classroom for the 2010/2011 semesters, the archives had to be moved once again. The parish was seeking a long-term solution thus the Old College was chosen as its second floor offered a space for a study room and a modernized storage. After the relocation, a new archive cataloguing was required, which was done by Mrs. Petrányi. On the 1st of October, 2010, the archives were permanently open for the public and on the 29th of October it was also blessed. This time it consisted of two divisions, a study-research one (44,2 sqr meters) and a storage (98 sqr meters), the latter can only be used by archivists.
On the 1st of February of 2013, the library and the archives were officially merged, and since then both of these have been managed by the same person: the head of the library.
Among the most significant archivists it is important to mention Antal Kudar, who worked there from 1865, and the first index can be attributed to his name. Béla Tollas and Béla Kovács Dr. had significant roles in organizing the post-war (after World War II) archives between 1950 and 1965. For more than two decades, from 1992 up until the end of 2012, pastor Zsuzsanna Szabó was the head of the archives. The purposeful rearrangement of the archives started under her leadership.
The collection of the archives can be increased through three different means: gifts, bequests or through mandatory copies. Among these, gifts are the least considerable, and books usually get exchanged among archives during MELTE conferences (Magyarországi Egyházi Levéltárosok Egyesülete – Association of Hungarian Church Archivists). Mandatory copies include presbytery minutes, parish registries and datasheets (baptism, wedding, burial, confirmation). Bequests (usually these are from ministers, pastors) are the most common of the three, there are currently 27 in the archives’ possession. The last large asset received by the library was the Gyula Cseri legacy, from which the library also got 3000-4000 volumes alongside the archives. The majority of the work given to the archives (80-90%) are in German, but also contains English and Hungarian works as well. This bequest mostly includes church related, theology related materials and official exchange letters, research papers and conference materials and presentations.
Visitors come here with different goals. The most common ones are – especially among the older generations – family tree research, and since the archive has a vast data on the exhumed of the Kecskeméti Református Temető (cemetery), it also tends to gain some attention. Furthermore researchers, PhD students (local and foreign) also seek out the archives quite often. The latter were mostly interested in the following topics: relations between pastors and the congregation during the 18th century in Kecskemét, social inequality between Jews and Christians, Hungary’s social mobility between 1850-1950, and the history of the reformed church of Kecsekmét during modern times (16-18th century).
The archives manuscripts are processed within the Szikla 21 integrated library system. It was evident that an integrated archives module for this computer system had to be developed, and thus the various works and manuscripts could be processed. It makes specified searches easier for the researchers on one hand, while providing the archivists with automated registry or the ability to assemble a database. Digitalization is under continuous planning and development (for parish registers for example), whereas on the second floor the restoration of worn books take place and accessibility options are managed (the archives is on the second floor, there are no elevators in the Old College building however), yet our funds are limited currently.
The significance of the archives are elevated by the fact that the manuscripts and works stored here are single-issue copies, and they are not replaceable.
Back in 2010 an agreement was made that during the relocation of the Old College The Ráday Archives gave us various written materials previously belonging to the congregation of the Reformed Church of Delpest for further maintenance. That time another set of written materials was also considered for an exchange, namely the written materials of the congregation of the Reformed Church of Kecskemet. Eventually, it happened on the 12th of November, 2013, when 93 archives boxes and 21 volumes containing 13 linear metres worth of materials were admitted to the archives.
In accordance with the 4854/5/52014/KOZGYUJT resolution brought by the Ministry of Human Resources (2014. 09. 15.) based on the 1995. LXVI. Act 30.§ (1) on public scripts, archives and the protection of private archives, the institution of the Reformed Church of Kecskemet, called the Library and Archives, was declared to be a public archive.
The Bishop of the Danubian Church District and the board of the Reformed Church of Kecskemet came to an agreement in 2015 to relocate the written materials of the district to Kecskemét.
And as such in the same year (2015) we acquired the written materials of the Reformed Church Delpest alongside the Reformed Church of Vertesalja, and in the same year we managed to set up another room as an archive storage through funds from the ministry. The entire archives is equipped with smoke and security alarms, and thus in 2016 we also acquired the materials of the dean’s archives of the Northern Diocese and as a result, the functions of storages were changed.
The archives of the Reformed Church of Kecskemet are continuously being relocated to the new room. Whereas the larger room serves as a storage room for the deposit materials from various parishes (Bács-Kiskunság, Délpest, Északpest, Vértesalja and Budapest-North). There is an ongoing work on establishing study rooms, and we are trying to make it as comfortable as possible for workers and visitors alike. In December 2018 the written archeological work materials of Sellye Ibolya were deposited by her daughter, Kalatin Lakos (Mrs. Veszeliczky) in the archives. 
We also officially re-acquired the materials of the faculty of law, which previously had been nationalized, from the Hungarian National Archives’ Bács-Kiskun County subdivision. Its return was completed by the end of 2019, thus our entire archives has been restored.