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Home > Curator's Corner > April 2010 > Accessing the Archives
Accessing the Archives
Intrepid Teens Blog
Posted: 4/26/2010 4:00:26 PM

Earlier this year I wrote about the first inventory of our poster collection, which we recently discovered consists of nearly 200 World War I and II era recruiting and propaganda posters. As our processing methods became more efficient, we decided it was time to take a more in depth look at the state of our archives collection as a whole. Years ago, a former staff member had dutifully stored the collection in acid-free folders and placed them in archival document boxes to keep the pieces safe from potential damage. However, because few boxes were organized or labeled properly, we only had a rough idea of exactly what was inside nearly 100 linear feet of boxes. As a result, we settled into our next project, which is to inventory the archives collection with the goal of creating searchable finding aids.

While engaging in this project for the past two months, we have also been correcting old repairs to paper documents that had been executed poorly. For instance, slapping a strip of scotch tape over a torn piece of paper is only a quick fix that eventually leads to discoloration of the adhesive and may cause the paper to become brittle over time. We also came across several documents secured with paperclips, which eventually rusted through the paper, leaving a brown stain in the shape of a paperclip. We noticed similar damage caused by documents that had been stapled together decades ago. In order to resolve these problems, we have been examining each item individually for sources of degradation.

Although this project may seem tedious and time consuming, we are enjoying learning more about the history of the ship every day and uncovering new stories about the men who served aboard her. Only a few weeks ago we came across a copy of the official “Torpedo Damage Report,” which documents the extent of the damage suffered by Intrepid when she was hit by a torpedo on February 17, 1944 at Truk. Included in the report is a drawing of the course Intrepid took when she was hit, as well as several photographs detailing the repair work completed at the USN dry docks at Hunters Point, San Francisco. On a more human side, we have a rather large collection of letters that were written to and by former crewmembers, ranging from World War II through the last Vietnam cruise. From these letters we are learning what sort of lives these men lived at sea, as well as how much their loved ones back home missed them and hoped for their safe return.

The goal is to complete organizing the archives collection within the next year, and we have already begun to create finding aids which we hope will make our fascinating collection more accessible to curatorial staff. We believe this significant resource will provide us with more information about Intrepid’s history that may have been overlooked in the past, and that could be shared with our visitors in the future.

Britta K. Arendt
Collections Manager