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Salon.com article on SSA Letter on damage to archives

History is being flooded, too
Slave records, jazz archives, Jefferson Davis' mansion: Hurricane Katrina has put them all in peril.

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By Rebecca

This article includes an image captioned:
Hurricane damage to the reference room of the Notarial Archives in New Orleans.

Excerpt quoted from: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/09/10/new_orleans_archives/index_np.html

Sept. 10, 2005 | On Thursday Sept. 8, Shelly Henley Kelly, the immediate past president of the Society of Southwest Archivists composed a letter to the editors of major newspapers.

"Imagine that Washington D.C. is struck by a CAT 5 hurricane and the National Archives has been damaged and/or flooded," Kelly, an archivist at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, wrote. "Archivists and conservators are trained to have a disaster response/disaster recovery plan. They will get in and begin the massive effort to reclaim the damaged documents... But what happens when the archivist is prevented from returning to the repository? How long can the many important documents, photographs, sound recordings documenting our nation's history and culture sit alone, un-airconditioned, possibly wet, before they rot beyond any hope for recovery?"

This, Kelly argued in her letter, is precisely what has been happening for nearly two weeks in New Orleans' cultural and historical repositories. "More than ten days after what will probably become the greatest natural disaster in the United States... archivists have NOT BEEN ALLOWED into their collections -- not for a day, an afternoon, even an hour," read the letter. If these collections are ignored, wrote Kelly, "they will soon be unrecoverable... New Orleans, a city so rich in history, may soon become a city with no history."

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