May 2, 2008

Occupational Hazards

The Chew papers demonstrate the hazards of archival work. Many of the boxes were likely stored in the basement at Cliveden for decades. As we sort through them, we face what at times may be centuries worth of dust, dirt, and sometimes mold. For archivists without allergies, wearing masks and/or gloves are important precautions to take when handling these materials. Archivists who are particularly sensitive to dust or mold should take more care to protect themselves from allergens. Because she is allergic to dust, Cathleen often wears a respirator (below) when handling documents that are covered in substantial particulate matter. We also operate air purifiers in our processing space. Along the way, we clean documents that are moldy or covered in heavy dust or dirt so that researchers will be able to safely access them in the future.

The stacks (and stacks) of papers spread across our tables at the moment are legal and estates documents. For about a week now we've been untangling all sorts of legal affairs, many related to the Chew family's land speculation ventures around the turn of the 19th century.

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