Providence commission warns about future of historic records

Providence, R.I. – Priceless historic records could be lost if the city of Providence doesn't store them more carefully. That's the finding of a special City Council commission looking into archive storage.

When the 1636 Roger Williams deed to Rhode Island was found under a table in the city archives last year, city councilor Terrence Hasset became concerned. What other treasures, he wondered, were in danger of being lost for lack of proper storage.

Plenty, as it turns out.

City Hall is the repository for thousands of records dating back to the city's earliest years. And there is no humidity control anywhere. The commission found boxes of records stacked so high the lower boxes were crushed. A collection of oil paintings of the city's mayors is hung perilously close to water leaks.

And there is no security. The commission recommends that city archives be moved to a location more conducive to their preservation. It calls the current situation "grossly inadequate" which allows no room for additions to the collection.