About Us


The Adventist Heritage Centre has three specific arenas.

1. Archives and Statistics,
2. Artefacts and historical items, and, 3. Sunnyside

While the Adventist Heritage Centre Research Room and the Ellen White Research Centre are located side by side in Cooranbong, NSW, Australia, with access via Avondale College Library, they are distinctly different. The Adventist Heritage Centre has been established to process the history of the SDA Church in the SPD. The Ellen G. White Research Centre was specifically set up to house and facilitate research relating to Ellen G White.

Adventist Heritage Centre Collection History

The idea for the Heritage Room Collection grew from discussions between Keith Clouten, Pastor Frame, Pastor Parmenter and Dr. Eric Magnusson in 1973. At that time Keith Clouten envisaged that the Heritage Room collection would contain:

  1. A collection of Seventh-day Adventist ‘Australiana’ – ideally one copy of every printed work ever issued by the church in this part of the world.
  2. Adventist rare books – e.g., early, and special editions of Ellen G White
  3. Manuscripts, papers, photographs, and letters relating to the history of the church in Australasia.
  4. Avondale College archives.
  5. Reference aids – e.g., yearbooks, bibliographies, special indexes, etc.

On August 6, 1973, the Avondale College Board voted to establish a Heritage Room Collection under the direction of Keith Clouten, the Head Librarian at Avondale College Library.
An ‘Australasian Record article – ‘Lest We Forget’ dated November 1973, pleaded for the preservation of materials before any more were lost.

In 1977 three office rooms adjoining the Ellen White Research Centre were renovated, and the Heritage Room Collection remained there with some overflow into the library

until construction began on a new library extension. The collection was then packed up, with some of it relocated into two classrooms until the library building extension was completed in 1998.

Until now, the acquisition guideline was based on the wording of a promotion brochure that stated:
“A variety of research materials constitutes the Heritage Room Collection:

  1. Books, pamphlets, and tracts printed by the Echo Publishing Company and its successor, the Signs Publishing Company. It is aimed to collect at least one copy of every item published by the Church in Australasia.
  2. Periodicals issued by Seventh-day Adventists in Australasia – the Bible Echo, Australasian Record, the Gleaner, the Southern Sentinel, the Australian edition of Life and Health, annual Appeal for Missions magazines to name a few.

1. Publications (mimeographed and printed) of Conference, Church Departments, Schools, Colleges, Healthcare, and other institutions.

  1. Archives of Church organisations, such as Conference Minutes, Board Minutes, Church Record Books, Correspondence Files.
  2. Personal and family documents, such as letters, photographs, diaries, certificates, and mementos
  3. Historic films and photographs, including several hundred glass slides.”

In 1996 the Heritage room facilities consisted of a few filing cabinets, some open shelving, and about 400 document boxes. In 2001, regular public access (one day a week) was introduced. By late 2003, the collection had grown to 2000+ books, 700+ document boxes, 1000+ building plans, 1000+ audio recordings, 100+ films, 1000+ photographs, and numerous other items. The entire assemblage is now believed to be more than 25,000 items and is still growing.

The current collection has been known by various names. It commenced operation under the name ‘Heritage room’, then changed to ‘South Pacific Division Avondale College Heritage Room’. In June 2003, the facility was renamed ‘Adventist Heritage Centre’ in line with similar facilities around the world.

Throughout most of this time, many artefacts have been exhibited at the South Seas Museum situated at Sunnyside, but many remained in storage. In 2019, the South Seas Island Museum was closed with a proposed redevelopment of the building into a community centre. In 2021, all the archives from the SPD offices in Wahroonga were relocated to the Old Printery on the Avondale University Estate. Sanitarium archives are also situated in the same building.

In 2022, the Adventist Heritage Centre under the leadership of a new Heritage Director, has continued to serve the church by processing and managing the SPD archives and artefacts to best practice.

A school’s program at Sunnyside has also been established, as well as a webpage and a social media presence, the archives areas have been reorganised, business opportunities have been developed and a new office space has been created.

As the collection continues to grow, it is important that all items within the collection fit a more specific criterion, and that the documenting of all items occurs promptly to process them and their data into the collection.

Guiding Principles for the Adventist Heritage Centre

The primary guiding principle for the AHC is the commitment to collect Seventh-day Adventist Church items for research and exhibition. The AHC staff have an obligation to inform prospective donors of the importance/value of their donation/s so that expectations for the item’s immediate or eventual use and display are not inaccurately heightened.

The AHC will acquire items primarily by donation. Highly desirable items may be purchased in exceptional circumstances. Items may also be bequeathed to the AHC (preferable) by prior arrangement.

The AHC will take reasonable steps to ascertain the bona fides of the donor prior to the acquisition of high monetary value items, thereby confirming their right to offer the item/s to the Centre.
The AHC will only acquire such items upon the receipt of a Donor Agreement Form signed and dated by the donor or the donor’s agent and countersigned by the Centre administrator. The form will be legally binding, and the donor will forgo all right and title over the item/s to the AHC upon signing.

The AHC will collect both physical items and information that are representative of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its subsidiaries. Material representing all areas of their existence will be featured in the collection.

Given that the AHC is the main institution in Australia dedicated to collecting Seventh- day Adventist Church memorabilia, * it will seek to acquire material across its subject area despite having smaller collections held in other facilities, museums, and libraries.

The Adventist Heritage seeks to retain its status as the main South Pacific Division/Avondale University Archival collection. *Excluding South Pacific Division Archives & Statistics Department.

Legislation and standards

The Centre is committed to following Australian legislation: The Archival Act 1983, the Privacy Act 1988, the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Evidence Act 1995, and the Electronic Transaction Act 1999.

The AHC is committed to applying the ‘selection criteria’ below and will not acquire illegal items that contain hazardous materials. By doing this, it is believed that a consistent standard of quality for acquisitions will be assured, and workplace health and safety risks will be minimised.

Selection Criteria

Items will not be collected just because they are old, strange, have doubtful or distant associations, or promote nostalgic or sentimental responses.

Both historical and contemporary items will be considered for collection only when they adequately satisfy the following criteria for historical significance. *

*Historical significance refers not just to the physical appearance of the item but to all elements that contribute to its meaning including context, history, uses and social values.

  1. Documentation – Items ideally should be supported by clear documentation that may, in part define its significance or association. Verbal information provided by the donor is acceptable but ideally should be confirmed by written secondary sources.
  2. Physical character – Every item must be complete to the point that an observer could visualise its former function and in good/excellent condition, because the time, expense and effort required to conserve/preserve an item, places too great a burden on the Centre. Only the most historically significant items should be acquired if they are in fair to poor condition. Some items such as newsprint may be accepted subject to the donor agreeing that the item/s may be copied or disposed of at the discretion of the administrator, due to the notorious instability of the base chemical/ingredient of the item.
  3. Provenance/historical association – Items will be accepted if they have proven historical association with a known institution, individual, event, activities, period, or place associated with the South Pacific Division (including its subsidiaries) of the Adventist Church. This includes items that do not originate in

this Division but have significantly contributed to the work in this region, e.g., MV Songs, teaching aids, etc.

Note: The AHC is a deposit collection for the South Pacific Division Publishing houses. This means the AHC should receive one copy of all significant published works free of any monetary cost (i.e., Books, Pacific edition Sabbath School lesson pamphlets, etc.).

  1. Rarity – The AHC is interested in acquiring rare and uncommon items that relate to the operation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (including its entities) within the South Pacific Division region. The long-term appeal of the AHC lies in its ability to amass both common and uncommon items relating to, or formerly belonging to offices, departments, and employees of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and/or its subsidiaries.
  2. Representability – The AHC is interested in collection items that represent the thinking of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its subsidiaries, offshoot Adventist groups, and church members.
  3. Research and educational value – All items must contain information or lend itself to interpretation which will lead to a greater understanding of the Seventh- day Adventist church and its subsidiaries within the South Pacific Division. This also includes items that have been published locally and/or overseas, that have made a significant contribution to the fostering of Adventist beliefs and activities within this region, e.g., Questions and Answers, evangelism charts, Desire of Ages, etc.
  4. Size/cost implications – The AHC will only acquire material that its infrastructure can support. For example, exceptionally large items such as church pews, parts of buildings, or planes will not be acquired because of their cost, maintenance, and handling requirements. There will be no so-called ‘permanent loans’ of any type as these place unnecessary burdens on administration, moral responsibility, and finance which the infrastructure of the AHC is unable to support. And significant high usage/fragile items may be filmed or digitised to save conservation/restoration costs and/or storage space problems.
  5. Social Value – The AHC is interested in collection items that are valued by the Adventist community for their cultural, spiritual, religious, scientific, or educational associations.
  6. Technological / creative value – The AHC is interested in collecting items that demonstrate a degree of technical or creative achievement relating to the activities of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its subsidiaries. This includes

one working example of support items (e.g., projectors, record players, etc.), unless some other significance warrants its retention. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Multiple copies – The AHC will not collect multiple copies of an item, except for two Avondale University publications: Prospectus/handbook (2 copies) and a student publication titled – ‘Jacaranda’ (3 copies). These items are heavily used and required for multiple displays
  2. All criteria will be considered when accessioning an acquisition. However, it is not necessary to find evidence of all criteria to justify an items eligibility. An item may be highly significant even if only one or two criteria apply.

Collection Themes

  1. South Pacific Division History – items directly associated with the development, operation and activities of the organisation since 1885, e.g., books, diaries, minutes, documents, small artefacts, serials, audio-visual items, kits, pamphlets, posters, photographs, signs, thesis documents, dissertations, newspaper cuttings, etc.
  2. Avondale University History – items directly associated with the development, operation, and activities of the institution since 1894, e.g., minutes, event brochures/booklets, books, reports, serials, plans, charts/posters, photographs, audio-visual items, kits, student books, small artefacts, etc.
  3. Church and school history – items directly associated individual Seventh-day Adventist churches and/or schools within the South Pacific Division region, e.g., Church record books, Primary school – Student registration books, significant church bulletins, History of significant buildings, etc.
  4. Significant individuals – items that represent the activities of individuals and families that have contributed to and/or hindered the development and operation of Seventh-day Adventist Church and/or its entities, e.g., Brinsmead, Burns, Hook, Patrick, Turner, Wiles, etc. (stories, letters, photos, talks, etc.)
  5. South Pacific Division entities – items directly associated with the various entities of the South Pacific Division, e.g., Adventist Media Centre; Sunnyside House & Museum; Sydney Adventist Hospital; Sanitarium Health Food Company, Signs Publishing Co., Sonoma “I” School, etc.
  6. Union, Conference, and mission field history – items directly associated with individual Union, Conference and Mission offices operated directly or indirectly

by the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist church, e.g., documents, serials, small artefacts, pamphlets, evangelism, and camp meeting recordings, etc.

Adventist Heritage Centre – Items that reflect the development, business, and other activities of the Centre, e.g., letters, business transactions, minutes, reports, etc.

  1. Adventist off-shoot groups – items that document the activities and thinking of Adventist off-shoot groups which operate within the South Pacific Division Area, including official responses to the activities of such groups.
  2. Adventist Rare Literature – Historical and contemporary Adventist rare books, pamphlets, brochures, talking books, serials, etc. that have been used by church members within the South Pacific Division region, e.g., early/special editions of Ellen G White books, evangelism pamphlets, small privately produced publications, etc.
  3. Cooranbong local history – items that document and/or reflect on the history of the Cooranbong (NSW) area, which relate to the Church and its entities, e.g., books, newspaper cuttings, photographs, advertising, brochures, etc.
  4. Reference aids – items that may assist staff and researchers in identifying, managing, and understanding the development, organisation and activities of Avondale College and the Seventh-day Adventist church and its entities, e.g., yearbooks, directories, specialist indexes, handbooks, charts, maps, etc.


Role of permanent & temporary displays – The AHC will permanently display a representation of its collection within the physical confines of its facility. This will serve to remind visitors of the breadth its holdings and assist the Centre in its acquisition of quality items for the main collection.

If possible, all displayed items will be duplicates or representations of originals held in the collection. Elements of the exhibition will be renewed or rotated to accommodate newly acquired items and rest the more sensitive material. In addition, new display techniques may be employed to reinterpret subject matter, especially as new display technologies become available.

In delivery of its exhibitions, the AHC will seek to employ the best available and most cost-efficient display techniques to promote its collections as positively as possible.


The AHC may determine to deaccession items from its collection, from time to time although this will be a very infrequent activity.

Reasons for deaccessioning may include:

  1. Duplication – the acquisition of an identical item in better condition and/or with better documentation than an existing item.
  2. Condition – the identification of an item whose physical condition is so poor that it is uninterpretable or threatens the integrity and condition of other items.
  3. Lack of significance – In the event of significance or selection criteria being modified by the Centre, items may become irrelevant to the collection.
  4. Substantial requests from the donor or their successors – the Centre may determine to return an item to its donor following a substantial written request, but this will be wholly at the discretion of the Ellen G. White and Heritage Committee.
  5. The SPD Heritage Director will approve all items earmarked for de-accessioning prior to disposal.


At disposal, the AHC will endeavour to utilise the following options in their listed order for most to least preferred:

  1. Use the item within the AHC as a display item.
  2. Return the items to the donor or the family if appropriate.
  3. Offer the item to other relevant Adventist heritage, museum, archival, or research facilities, then transfer the item at the owner’s expense.
  4. Use the item within the AHC as an educational/handling item/prop.
  5. Destroy or recycle the item.

Duty of Care

By accepting items into the collection, the AHC undertakes to care within available economic constraints for the items in perpetuity. As part of that care the AHC will:

1. Have books catalogued by the Avondale University Catalogue Department, as traditionally all AHC books have been handled this way.

  1. Database and describe all other items into the AHC’s in-house database in detail – e.g., creator, material type, condition, dimension, date of origin, assembly details, background details, previous usage, location, and a brief content description of non-artefact items.
  2. Provide access to Avondale University Library catalogue for visitors to the AHC via the worldwide web, and the Centre database on site upon request by researchers.
  3. The AHC will aim to provide secure stable storage for the items long-term survival; by providing conditions and infrastructure within existing cost constraints to ensure the extended security and safety of the items from immediate (burglary, fire, flood) and extended (temperature, high light levels, insect infestation) threats.
  4. Display items safely and in secure conditions.
  5. Protect the anonymity of a donor unless otherwise directed by the donor.
  6. Disseminate information about the collection via available Adventist and local publications, e.g., Record, Avondale University Connections, Cooranbong Gazette, etc.
  7. Undertake research into the collection to add value to its asset as time and resources permit.
  8. Should the AHC cease to exist: all records and archives will be transferred to the continuing body or to the South Pacific Division Archives Office.

Research Protocol

The AHC will provide free access one day per week for authorised researchers. For those who are unable to attend on that day a more suitable time may be negotiated with the SPD Heritage Director.

All visiting access will be via the Heritage Director or a designated assistant. Visitors will have access to the use of study tables and chairs, photocopy service, and the services of a part-time collection specialist as per the standard provisions.

For those researchers who cannot visit the AHC in person, the Centre will accept request by mail, phone, or email. Given that the AHC is a not-for-profit funded facility, and probable extended staff-time is required to meet some requests, nominal fees may apply.

Note: unpublished material less than 30 years old or restricted for other reasons (e.g., personnel and legal files) are not available.

A written request to access specific items may be made to the Adventist Heritage Centre Director who has the discretion along with the appropriate higher body to permit restricted access to such items.

Adventist Heritage Centre: Is commissioned to permanently preserve and house the following:

Collects –

  1. Division level business and other activity records
  2. Permanently keep one copy of all union, and institutional board/administrative level minutes
  3. Financial & statistical records of Division-wide activities
  4. General Conference Policy manuals and Yearbooks
  5. South Pacific Division manuals
  6. Other items as designated in the Division retention and disposal schedule.

The Future

We at the Adventist Heritage Centre have a dream, to create a single facility that houses the Adventist Heritage Centre, SPD Archives, and the South Sea Islands Museum (renamed Oceanic Art & Cultural Museum). This Seventh-day Adventist facility would be open to everyone and encourage people to ask questions, learn, explore, and enjoy what we have to offer in a variety of ways.

This is a big dream that needs your help to make it happen. Please click [here] for our Donation page to see how you can help us in our endeavours. [add hyperlink to Donate page].