Saving Aberdeen’s History turns up Gems, Mysteries

This is a follow-up to articles I published earlier at and at and also at about a disastrous fire at the Aberdeen (Washington) Museum of History. The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society research library was housed in the same building and suffered a major loss as well. The building was destroyed.

Volunteers have been working to rescue as much of the contents as possible. Archivists have spent 787 hours (so far) in a high-intensity, low-tech effort to save thousands of soaked and soot-covered prints, negatives, film and even VHS tapes. The archivists hauled out 119 office boxes filled with Aberdeen history to a storage building the size of half a football field, with ceilings at least 30 feet high.

“It reminded of that scene in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ said Steve Excell, the head state archivist. Some 20 to 30 boxes with mostly soaked paper documents were also taken by Servpro, a water and fire cleanup company, and frozen to prevent further damage.

You can read a lot more about the restoration effort in an article by Erik Lacitis in the Seattle Times at

I didn’t see any mention in that article about digitizing the restored pictures and documents in order to prepare for a future, possibly worse, disaster.

One Comment

Thank you, Dick, for your visibility and attention about the devastating fire at the Aberdeen (Washington) Museum of History and the loss of our Grays Harbor Genealogical Society Research Library. We are still reeling, but are a hardy bunch and are beginning to pull ourselves up by our boot straps. Moving ahead…


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