Preservation and Access: Grants to Preserve and Create Access to Humanities Collections

Period of Performance

9/1/2005 - 8/31/2006

Funding Totals

$30,000.00 (approved)
$30,000.00 (awarded)

Rescue and Stabilization of Archival Materials HURRICANE KATRINA EMERGENCY GRANT

FAIN: PC-50006-06

New Orleans Notarial Archives (New Orleans, LA 70112)
Ann Wakefield (Project Director: October 2005 to December 2006)

The New Orleans Notarial Archives holds records of all contracts between individuals from 1734 to the present. Such contracts are entered into public record by virtue of being filed as a notarial record created a by a civil law notary, a feature of Louisiana's unique civil law tradition. They include property sales, marriage contracts, wills, building contracts, acts of incorporation, partnerships, and inventories of estates and businesses. The Notarial Archives operates in two locations, a basement in the Civil District Courthouse that houses current property recordation, and a research center that serves as a historical and educational resource. Both are located in the immediate vicinity of the New Orleans Superdome, an area that was heavily flooded. Twenty percent of the records housed in the recordation center were soaked and the remainder sustained an unacceptable moisture level. The wet records were frozen and shipped to Chicago for treatment, and the rest of the records were boxed and removed to climate-controlled housing, first in 18 tractor trailers, and then in the Convention Center, where they were examined for moisture damage and mold activity as they were removed from the boxes in preparation for re-opening the filing office. Though windows had been blown out in the research center, the materials had moisture levels within acceptable limits; the immediate treatment was to board up broken windows, pump in dry air, and stabilize relative humidity and temperature levels until the building's management could repair the windows and the building systems for reopening.