“It’s Like Christmas”

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I am thrilled to see this. Check this out from the WWOZ (New Orleans) blog:

“Local preservationist Joseph Makkos is the recipient of 30,000 tubes filled with Times-Picayunes (and its predecessors The Daily Picayune and The Times-Democrat) from 1885 to 1930. Originally a part of the British Library’s collection, these papers were rescued from routine destruction of original newsprint and old books as they were transferred to microfilm, a more space-friendly way for libraries to preserve documents.” (emphasis mine)

This truly is pioneering public history project. Image source: http://noladna.com/about/

This truly is pioneering public history project. Image source: http://noladna.com/about/

I know ‘routine destruction’ is one of those things that happens in libraries and archives. It serves a purpose, but it still makes me sad. The documents themselves made it to this point in time; people 100 years ago actually TOUCHED and handled these things. It is a tangible link to the past.

Also, this makes me think about Emmett’s Elusive Scrapbooks — how they, too may simply have been ‘routinely destroyed’ long ago. I hope not. I’m still looking. But I know the reality of what happens when people clean house: They throw away old papers and items of no practical use; items that belonged to loved ones long dead and forgotten. No one could have predicted that someone would come along 100 years later to explore Emmett Wilson’s life.

Anyway, the story of how Makkos came into possession of the tubes is here; I note that this was no overnight acquisition. It took time, just like any good, worthwhile research project.

This is a huge, HUGE find for folks who like to comb through historic papers! Folks like me! The article mentions that the archive will be open to the public in 2015. Thank you!

The NOLADNA archive probably does contain information about Emmett, too, because he was in New Orleans several times for court-related issues (appeals); also, he accompanied Cephas to New Orleans for a serious medical procedure. Ceph was a big enough deal (as was Emmett, who was still a congressman at that point) that he would have been mentioned in the local papers. I’m just so thrilled to see this. I can’t wait to look around in this archive!

More info on the New Orleans Digital Newspaper Archive is at this link. Joy!

 

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