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MayDay: “Preparedness Protects Our Heritage”

April 29, 2009

MayDay 2009 logo

Each year, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and its partners call on archivists – along with their colleagues at libraries, museums, historic sites, and historical societies – to spend some time on May 1 improving their ability to respond to an emergency such as a fire, flood, hurricane, or tornado. This year at the DRT Library, staff members have been encouraged to use MayDay as an opportunity to make sure they have up-to-date copies of emergency planning documents and to review the library’s “Disaster Preparedness Plan and Recovery Manual.”

Moreover, individuals and families can join archivists across the country in better preparing themselves for emergencies that could damage or destroy their personal collections of records. These materials include vital records such as birth and marriage certificates, diplomas, financial and tax records, deeds, driver licenses, and Social Security cards. These and other materials such as correspondence, photographs, artifacts, and video or audio recordings also document family history.

The Society of American Archivists provides an annotated list of MayDay resources, a comprehensive guide to resources about caring for collections. Here is a selection of excellent online guides geared toward general audiences, individuals and families:

Library of Congress, “Preparing, Protecting, Preserving Family Treasures”

National Archives and Records Administration, “Caring for Your Family Archive”

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, “Caring for Your Treasures”

Northeast Document Conservation Center, “Resources for Private and Family Collections”

Also see David W. Carmicheal’s book Rescuing Family Records: A Disaster Planning Guide, available through the Council of State Archivists (CoSA).

MayDay 2009 logo from the website of the Society of American Archivists.

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