Efforts Are Underway to Preserve Historic Philadelphia Documents

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Historic documents.
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Philadelphia is tasking Kofile with helping preserve its historic documents.

There are mountains of historic documents — such as legal wills and marriage licenses — decaying in the attic of Philadelphia City Hall, some of them dating back four centuries.

While the haphazard storage of these local treasures is the worst nightmare of any historian, there is a glimmer of hope for a better future, writes Kyle Bagenstose for Hidden City.

Records management company Kofile has a number of those documents at its offices across the country and is working on restoring their integrity. Some documents are being carefully pieced back together after breaking apart over centuries. Others are having early-era lamination removed, and the worst ones, which cannot be saved, are being scanned to create a digital version that is as legible as possible.

“A lot of these records are to the point where they’re 300, close to 400 years old,” said Ryan Chapman, a regional account executive with Kofile. “We are trying to preserve these original documents, and scan them, so that no one any longer has to touch them.”

It is unclear how many documents will be preserved as the company has a limited agreement with the City of Philadelphia and its Register of Wills.

Nonetheless, the preservation efforts are firmly underway.

Read more about the preservation efforts in Hidden City.

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