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From the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, shared May 6:

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RALEIGH – North Carolina is rich in stories, chronicled in part through historic documents such as maps, photographs, scrapbooks, letters, and official government documents held in nearly 1,000 cultural repositories throughout the state. Yet many of these materials are at risk due to normal deterioration, environmental damage, negligence, or improper handling.

The North Carolina State Archives in the Department of Cultural Resources helps preserve and provide access to these collections through its Traveling Archivist Program (TAP), offering onsite assistance to institutions that preserve North Carolina’s history and culture.

Institutions chosen to participate in this program receive an onsite collections assessment, recommendations for managing and caring for the collections, and staff training and instruction. Cultural institutions eligible for this program include historical and genealogical societies, libraries, archives, museums, and historic houses.

“By safeguarding local special collections, we preserve a unique perspective of our state’s history,” said State Archivist Dick Lankford. “The goal of TAP is to educate the staffs who take care of these collections and to encourage best practices in collection preservation and access.”Begun in 2009 as a pilot project with a federal grant from the National Historical Publications Records Commission, TAP has assisted more than 40 institutions in 32 counties.

Many of these collections were started by individuals interested in preserving the local history of their communities and were later donated to historical societies, public libraries or community colleges. As the Traveling Archivist, Hal Keiner, former archivist at Appalachian State University, has seen it all. “Each place I visit has hidden treasures,” said Keiner. “I have found old scrapbooks documenting people and places, records of important local businesses, 19th- and early 20th-century photographs, files of carefully indexed genealogical research, photograph collections, and rare books.”

The TAP program is open to all North Carolina cultural and heritage institutions that house and maintain active archive and record collections accessible to the public. Applications will be accepted until June 30, 2011; the application and instructions are available from the North Carolina State Archives Web site, http://www.archives.ncdcr.gov, or directly at http://www.history.ncdcr.gov/SHRAB/documents/SHRAB_application_instructions_20110427.doc. Institutions housing solely objects or artifacts are ineligible for this program.

Questions relating to the application or the program may be addressed to Andrea Gabriel, North Carolina State Archives, (919) 807-7326, andrea.gabriel@ncdcr.gov.

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources is the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources programs is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.

Kathleen O'Nan

Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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