World’s Largest Strongbox (Aug, 1950)
World’s Largest Strongbox
By John L. Kent
UNCLE Sam is storing priceless historical documents in the world’s largest strongboxâ€”the National Archives Building in Washington, D. C.
As a precaution against loss or damage in case of war or other catastrophe, special committees in government bureaus are picking out important records which must be preserved because of their historical value. These are shipped to the strongboxâ€”or to dispersed storage points outside the city.
The National Archives has accumulated more than 850,000 cubic feet of records during its 15 years of existence. Included in the collection are the German and Japanese World War II surrender documents, treaties of peace since the French and Indian wars, land grant papers and historical correspondence of State, War and other government departments.
Most of the records consist of paper documents, all of which require extensive preparation before they can be stored. They are first thoroughly fumigated, then dusted. To remove folds and wrinkles, a mechanical humidifier dampens them after which they are pressed.
After the documents are indexed and filed, they don’t remain hidden. Lists of the material are prepared by the Archives bibliographers and a trained reference staff is ready to aid searchers in finding and using documents on file.
Uncle Sam may have the world’s largest strongbox, but the key to it is yours for the asking.