Do we all dream of finding pieces of “lost history” deep in archives? What happens when books or documents have been recognized as historically important and need preservation before they can be fully read, explored, and used?
An example of this situation happened in Buck County, Pennsylvania, earlier this week. Sixty-one books were carefully moved from the county archives to Vermont for preservation. Robin Robinson who serves as Bucks County Recorder of Deeds explained the historical significance of the volumes which contained records of enslaved men, women, and children. Within the pages, there are records of “manumissions”—the formal records of the enslaved granted freedom. Some of the manumissions seem to have been recorded by Quakers in the county and some of the emancipation moments came just after a bill of sale for that enslaved person, suggesting that Quakers in the community were purchasing enslaved people and setting them free.
Ms. Robinson has been working with Linda Salley, president of the African American Museum of Bucks County, to understand the significance of the records and take steps for the volumes’ preservation.
According to a news article: “The 61 books were sent to Kofile, a company in Essex, Vermont, that does preservation and restoration of government documents. The preservation of the books is part of a $125,000 grant the office received from the National Park Service, in conjunction with the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The grant, called Save America’s Treasures, funds preservation of nationally significant historic collections.”
The books are expected to return to the county some time in April after the preservation work is completed.
More details in this original article: https://patch.com/pennsylvania/bensalem/books-recording-slavery-bucks-co-being-preserved