Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Archival Visit

Last week I attended a meeting that included tours of the Georgia Archives and the National Archives at Atlanta.  You might find this tidbit interesting - Georgia is the only state where the regional National Archives is next door to the state archives.  Pretty cool, huh?
(picture from the Clayton County Information site)
The National Archives is the building on the left, and the Georgia Archives is on the right.

Here's a better picture of the state archives building - you'll note it's very shiny!
(picture from the State Archivists website)
As we were touring the state archives I thought several times, "Oh, I wish I had my camera!"  We got to see the preservation and conservation rooms, plus walk through some of the not-open-to-the-public vaults.  Yes I am a librarian, and yes I am a nerd, so this was totally filled with awesomeness!

Another interesting tidbit:  this building was constructed specifically as an archive.  It's got all sorts of protective stuff built in.  The way the foundation and the supporting walls were created, if there was a flood (even of Biblical proportions), the entire vault would pop up and FLOAT before it would be breached.  I have to go all Keanu Reeves on that and say "woah, duuuude!"

We left the state building, and moved across the courtyard to the National Archives.
(photo by yours truly)

So as you'll note in that last caption, *I* took this picture.  Yeah... I'd forgotten I had my iPad tucked into my bag.  ::sigh::  But at least I had it out for pictures during the next tour!

The main lobby of the National Archives at Atlanta...

 Again, we got to go behind the scenes (and when you're a librarian in a huge archive, that's the best place to be!)
The National Archives at Atlanta is the repository for all the original draft cards from World War I.  Over 24 million of them.  The archives director Rob Richards, above, shows us one of those cards.  Wow.  They've digitized them (with the help of, I think) but of course the originals were kept. 

The NAA's primary collection focus is federal records originating in or about the seven southeastern states.  And that includes the time before the American Revolution.
Some of these bound books are admiralty manifests and records from the port of Charleston pre-1776.  And a lot of them are from ships classified as sloops.  And you know what group of folks favored sloops at that time?  Pirates.  So we have PIRATE LOGS!  Arr, me hearties!!!!!!

I don't think I can adequately describe how massive the vaults are in this place, but here's a picture I took from about *halfway* down the aisle.

And this was about halfway down the main corridor between the aisles.... and this is just one of the vaults.  They have four.

So it was a fantastic trip. I encourage you to hook up with a large group of librarians and finagle yourself a behind-the-scenes tour.  If you're nerdy like me, you definitely won't regret it!


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