Arghh. Shades of Katrina, Rita, Irene, and the other [un]natural disasters that have struck the U.S. over the past decade. We all undoubtedly have friends and colleagues in New Jersey and New York who are struggling to dig their archives out from under water, mud, and garbage, after which they’ll begin recovery procedures for materials that aren’t beyond hope. No doubt some of you will be on the front lines with them as the archival community pulls together once again to help each other out.
I’m here with a plea: please find it in your hearts to help build SAA’s Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives. Even the smallest amounts will be gratefully welcomed. We do have some funds, but they’ll be depleted quickly once grant requests begin to flow in. Donate here.
We stand ready to award initial grants of $2,000 to those who complete the simple application process. It’s not much, but every bit helps. One option is to have the funds sent directly to a vendor once the institution has an invoice in hand. Go here to learn more about the grants.
I’ve been communicating with lots of colleagues in the affected areas and learned today that the New York State Archives Disaster Response Team already has mobilized in a big way. They’re reaching out to a wide range of institutions, many of which haven’t yet been able to assess conditions because they can’t gain access to their collections–nor do some have electrical power, which means they can’t even make telephone or email contact. The waiting must be excruciating. For example, what about the Sandy Ground Historical Museum on the hard-hit south end of Staten Island, whose collections document the earliest early African American community (early 19th century) founded by freed slaves?
Those who have begun assessment are reporting collections that have been submerged for days in brackish water combined with nasty grunge such as diesel fuel, even human waste. Examples include an opera archives with production books, donor files and other archival records; a museum with a roomful of archival architectural and engineering drawings; a medical library with rare books and archival records; and the archives of a canoeing group. My heart goes out to them all.
Please help. It could be any of our archives next time.