Please help SAA help the archives hit hard by Hurricane Sandy

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.

7 responses to “Please help SAA help the archives hit hard by Hurricane Sandy

  1. Pingback: Email from New York Archivist round table and resources on Sandy relief | Laura DeMuro

  2. A heads up that SAA’s server network has been having problems since yesterday morning. If you can’t get to the link to donate, please try again on Monday.

  3. My donation made just now on Sunday afternoon went through with no problem!

  4. Thank you, Jackie, for making this plea. I worked with the original SSA-SAA grants put in place for Katrina and Rita in 2005 and found that the help we provided was in many cases the first assistance these repositories received. While waiting for insurance claims to be made and acted upon, the SSA-SAA fund filled a critical need for these collections that had steeped in floodwaters for days and months.

    Yes, yes, please donate to the fund! Build it so that archivists can continue helping archivists and archives needing this assistance.

  5. Is there an easy way for non-SAA members or folks in the general (non-archives) community to contribute?

    • Yes! Non-members can set up an SAA “profile” that carries no obligation and gives you access to the donation form. Please let me know if you have any trouble, and thank you for your generosity!

  6. I am the regional and county folklorist on Staten Island. I appreciate the post and the work you are doing. Just wanted to let you know that the Sandy Ground HIstorical Museum had minimal propert damage to the front gate of their museum. The property is a half-mile inland. Their archive is safely stored off site. I urge you all to support Sandy Ground! It’s one of the cultural bedrocks of New York City. Keep up the good work!

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