Collections Blog

Time and Tide: Learning from the Storm

On September 28, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Preston Everett, Archives and Records Services, for writing this post.

Department assessment teams worked after the storm to help libraries, museums, local governments, and other institutions stabilize their records, books, and artifacts. In the midst of this work, another recovery project was being developed to help people recover their family treasures and assist cultural institutions in conserving and repairing damaged artifacts in their collections.

Art conservation specialist Debbie Hess Norris of the University of Delaware spearheaded the Recovering Collections & Artifacts workshops, which brought conservation experts to Mississippi for a series of free workshops across the state from May through November 2006.

Teams of conservators and conservation graduate students from the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation led the series. They demonstrated how to assess, stabilize, dry, and clean damaged items ranging from photographs to textiles to furniture.

The workshops were sponsored by the Winterthur Museum and the University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, MDAH, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Time and Tide: Coastal Records Recovery

On September 22, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Preston Everett, Archives and Records Services, for writing this post.

MDAH staff was able to recover some record books and other materials for freezing.  Freezing records stops the growth of mold and mildew, and gives staff time to find the proper conservator.  A freezer truck was rented in Gulfport and arrangements made for a storage freezer in Jackson to hold records from Bay St. Louis City Hall, Waveland City Hall, Secretary of State’s Office, Pass Christian City Hall, Pass Christian Historical Society and the O’hr-Okeefe Museum.  Once the records were stabilized they were sent to a conservator for cleaning and preservation.

Above:  September 15, 2005 Archives and Records Services division assessment teams and other Department employees’ recovered approximately 52 volumes of Bay St. Louis Mayor’s Council Minute Books.

Above:  Ann Frellsen and Bill Hanna clean minute books with a 50/50 alcohol and water solution before placing them in the archives van for transport.

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Time and Tide: Assessment Teams

On September 18, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Preston Everett, Archives and Records Services, for writing this post.

By the week of September 12, 2005, the MDAH Archives and Record Services Division received assistance from Ann Frellsen, staff member of the Preservation Office at Emory University, and Christine Wiseman, the Preservation Services Manager at Georgia Archives. They joined the Archives and Records Services Division assessment teams working at public libraries, county courthouses, city governments, museums, and historical societies on the Coast. The teams also made recommendations for cleaning, immediate preservation such as freezing or drying materials, and ways to protect employees from mold when handling materials.

Jackson County

Harrison County

Hancock County

The assessment teams wrote conservation reports and took photographs for each site. The reports included findings, salvaged materials, and recommendations to be used by the necessary staff.

Bay St. Louis City Hall conservation report

Bay St. Louis City Hall conservation report

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Time and Tide: Old Spanish Fort Museum Assessment

On September 15, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Preston Everett, Archives and Records Services, for writing this post.

Front of the Old Spanish Fort Museum building, September 12, 2005.

Front of the Old Spanish Fort Museum building, September 12, 2005.

September 12, 2005—two weeks after Katrina—the MDAH Archives and Records Services Division created damage assessment teams to assist public libraries, county courthouses, city governments, museums, and historical societies on the Coast.  The first team went to the Old Spanish Fort Museum in Pascagoula.  The museum is three miles from the beach and its backyard is the Pascagoula River.  The river backed up from Katrina’s surge, flooding everything in the area.  The water rose up to four feet in the museum damaging the building and its artifacts.

Due to the wide-spread devastation no recovery or damage assessments had been done at the museum.  Artifact cases were still sealed and frequently contained water resulting in mold, mildew, rust and other problems.  Many of the museum’s artifacts were irretrievably damaged.

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Time and Tide: The Storm Arrives in Jackson

On September 14, 2015, in Archives, by Timothy
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This post is part of an ongoing series, “Time and Tide: Ten Years after Katrina.” Special thanks to Preston Everett, Archives and Records Services, for writing this post.

The majority of MDAH Archives and Records Services Division staff works at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building in Jackson, Mississippi.  On Friday, August 26, 2005, MDAH employees went home for the weekend thinking Katrina wasn’t going to hit Mississippi directly since the hurricane was veering to the west.  Monday the 29 was a very different story. Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a category three at 125 mph.  When it arrived in central Mississippi, it had weakened to a category one hurricane at 95 mph.

Staff made preparations for the hurricane by moving everything away from the windows and covering furniture and equipment with Visqueen.  By mid-morning, heartbreaking and disturbing stories began reaching us.  The New Orleans levees were not holding, and the Superdome’s roof was tearing apart.  While Winter Building employees were making preparations, the world outside the building showed signs Katrina was close.   The Image and Sound section employees took this video around 10:45 a.m.   The light fixture fell one hour later, missing the building.

MDAH Light Fixture Katrina

 

 

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