Submitted by Secretary of State
In the wake of Saturday’s devastating fire at the Aberdeen Museum of History, thousands of damaged and disarrayed photos, documents, films, and other historical artifacts need to be salvaged and sorted rapidly, before mold sets in.
This recovery effort has come to the Records Center Annex at Unit D of 8009 River Drive Southeast in Tumwater, where history is being salvaged by Archives Division professionals from the Office of Secretary of State Kim Wyman. The painstaking work at the Tumwater site to conserve Aberdeen’s history began Wednesday afternoon and continues Thursday morning.
After the blaze was brought under control and the catastrophic extent of the damage was apparent, Washington State Archives experts traveled to Aberdeen to recover boxes of historic records from the museum’s waterlogged basement. Fire damage to exhibits on the museum’s main and second floors was extensive. The archives in the basement took four feet of water, putting irreplaceable records at high risk of mold damage.
Those artifacts, which date back to Aberdeen’s earliest days, have been trucked to safe storage for assessment and preservation by state archivists and volunteers from other divisions of the Office of Secretary of State.
Wednesday at the Records Center Annex in Tumwater, workers began sorting through the recovered materials to determine what can be saved and how much care each record requires. The effort is expected to take several days.
“There’s a few things completely untouched, some things that were damp, and some that are totally soaked,” State Archivist Steve Excell told The Daily World.
Archivists and volunteers will be on site working with the damaged records from 8:30 a.m. onward Thursday. Members of the media are welcome to take photographs, shoot video, and interview the people helping to rescue Aberdeen’s history.