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Preserving the Records of the Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral ArchivesAs the new century arrived, the Washington National Cathedral realized it faced a new challenge. The curator of its invaluable collection of frequently consulted architectural plans and drawings retired, the collection lacked adequate on-site storage, and the materials required care. The cathedral had to find a solution for the inadequate environmental conditions in the existing storage space and the lack of physical and intellectual control over the collection.

History Associates had the answer. In just over a month, we orchestrated the move of the entire collection from northwest Washington, D.C., to our secure, climate-controlled archival storage facility. We verified the cathedral’s inventory, labeled every box and drawer, identified a moving company, and supervised the movers during every step of the move to ensure that not a single item was mishandled, misplaced, or placed in the wrong location upon arrival. All 300 cubic feet of records and 205 map case drawers, containing some 35,000 architectural drawings—many of non-standard size—arrived safe and sound.

In addition to housing the collection, we provided on-site access and reference services to both cathedral staff and authorized researchers, and maintain physical control through the use of our inventory management software, in conjunction with the cathedral’s own item-level database. We also coordinated the digitization of these oversized drawings each time use copies are made, helping to preserve the originals and at the same time making the materials readily accessible in digital form to future users.

In 2016, the Cathedral opted to donate the collection to the National Building Museum, where these documents could be more accessible to the general public. We worked closely with Cathedral staff and specialized movers to coordinate the collection’s relocation, ensuring it was safely transported to its new home.

Get Started on Your Archives Project

It’s as easy as contacting History Associates! Call us at (301) 279-9697, or submit an online inquiry to discuss your records management program.

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