Racing against Time in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to save 300 Years of Land Records

The handwriting of William Penn, the founding father of Pennsylvania, has weathered the ravages of time for 334 years, most recently buried amid reams of paper inside the Bucks County storage facility in Doylestown Township. His handwriting and that of many others in the deeds of early Pennsylvania are deteriorating on frayed, yellowed, mold-stained pages, their ink faded and vanishing. Some tomes produced after the Civil War were printed on paper whose wood pulp was supplemented by cloth recycled from Union uniforms. Some of the records may soon be unreadable.

Kofile Technologies, a company that specializes in preserving historical documents, has entered into a contract with the county to treat and rebind 700 of the volumes, records from 1684 to the late 1800s that also include emancipation documents for slaves and other miscellaneous recordings.

You can read all about the preservation efforts in an article by Vinny Vella in the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s web site at http://bit.ly/2LEsyLk. The article also contains a picture of many, many books of old records stacked on pallets.

3 Comments

I would assume that the Pennsylvania State Archives would step in to protect these documents. Who has talked with them?

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The article indicates that at least some of the records were micrfilmed a number of years ago, but that the quality of the microfilmed images was poor. Is there no way to rescan the pages as they are being conserved? Digitization would ultimately cut down on the amount of time staff spend on trips to off-site storage facilities for the purpose of retrieving the originals for members of the public to view, and would also protect the originals from excessive handling.

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Northumberland County Pa also needs some record preservation intervention!

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