A Fire at the Aberdeen (Washington) Museum of History Destroys Much of the Museum’s Collection and a Genealogy Society’s Library

Here is a story that every genealogist, archivist, historian, and museum manager never wants to read: On Saturday, a fire destroyed the Aberdeen Museum of History in Kurt Cobain’s hometown of Aberdeen, Washington, which included items from his early life.

NOTE: The late Kurt Cobain was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. Born in Aberdeen, Washington, Cobain formed the band Nirvana with Krist Novoselic and Aaron Burckhard in 1987.

No one was in the building at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported. It took 77 firefighters 10.5 hours to suppress the fire. The fire started from within the building, a cause most typically related to heating or electrical malfunctions. At around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, firefighters from multiple agencies responded to the fire in the Armory Building. It spread through most of the building, and collapsed a majority of the roof. It caused serious damage to the museum and other organizations located inside like the Coastal Community Action Program, the Senior Center, and the Grays Harbor Genealogical Society research library.

Specialists have begun going into the building to salvage artifacts and historical documents, and museums from across the country have offered resources and help. The main floor of the Aberdeen Museum of History appears to be badly charred by Saturday’s fire, but there is hope that a significant amount of the historical documents and photos in the basement archives can be restored. The basement archives contain thousands of historic documents that go back to the city’s founding days, and even before that.

Almost everything stored on the main and second floors was destroyed.

There was one unique item in the museum that meant a lot to the firefighters: a 1927 Ahrens-Fox pumper fire truck, was pulled from the museum’s side garage door, taken away on a flatbed truck, and is a candidate for restoration.

You can read more about this sad story in an article by Louis Krauss in The Daily World web site at: http://bit.ly/2t9UNKu.

3 Comments

Another reason why all historic records should be digitized and stored offsite

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So sad and they must be in shock after that. I agree with digitization and off site storage, but there is nothing to match the look, feel and aura of old documents. To hold in your hand (even with gloves on) something that your great, great, great grandparent or other ancestor wrote or even just touched is a magical feeling. I don’t suppose we can keep everything although my house looks like I’ve tried that route! I have photographs that a great uncle by marriage took and printed some 120 years ago and I often think they might be the first things I’d rescue. Yes I have digital copies in multiple places and have sent the copies to all members of the extended family – even if they didn’t want them – so there should always be a copy somewhere, but I’d cry long and loud for damage to the originals.

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So sorry to hear this. A huge loss of documents.

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