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Hi everyone.

I went to the pre-ceremony of opening the Century Box at the Detroit
Historical Museum.  It may interest you to know that Mayor Archer did
mention in his speech the problems that electronic records provide.  I had a
smirk on my face and laughed with everyone else at the event when he said
that if they do put a CD-ROM or other computerized item in the box he plans
to leave for the next century, that they should be sure to leave with it a
the technology to read it.  This is a clear indication that people are aware
of the time limitation issues technology brings.

As for storing the items, they will be processed at the Detroit Historical
Museum and put on display.  There are several museums in the area. Three
collection sites were mentioned in the previous emails.  Detroit is growing
culturally.  There are more than a few museums in the area that could
undoubtedly house and maintain a collection as small as this one. The
collection is the size of a large jewelry box.

The Wayne State University Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs you mentioned
is literally across the street from the Detroit Historical Museum.  The DIA
and the Detroit Historical Museum are both on Woodward Ave. across the
street from each other too.  While I am on the topic of locations, the
African American Museum is within walking distance, as is the Center for
Creative Studies and the Detroit Science Center.  The main branch of the
Detroit Public Library, beautiful in itís own right, is next to the Detroit
Historical Museum and houses the Burton Collection.  By the way, the Burton
Collection was flooded within the last year.  Repairs to the collection and
housing are ongoing.  I am sure that the trained professionals at the
Detroit Historical Museum will call on their colleagues if necessary.

I am glad that the Century Box was mentioned as it is the kick-off for the
Tri-centennial Celebration Year for Detroit.  This would be a great year to
visit the area and celebrate with us.

Mechelle Bernard
************Original email
Date:    Mon, 1 Jan 2001 09:53:58 -0600
From:    MicroD International <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: RAIN 01/01/01: Weekend Update Part 3

Regarding Peter's revelation of the opening of the Detroit
time capsule - I wonder what the city officials would have
done if the priceless information had been recorded on a
digital medium? It is inconceivable that information stored
today in digital form and placed in a capsule to be opened
in the year 2101, would be of any value whatsoever when
retrieved from the capsule. I can't imagine that there would
be a digital system available that could decypher the bits
and bytes. On the other hand, if the information were
recorded on microfilm.........

Happy New Year Everyone!
Bill Thomas, Microd International
[log in to unmask]

------------------------------

Date:    Mon, 1 Jan 2001 15:47:35 -0500
From:    Mark Walsh <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: RAIN 01/01/01: Weekend Update Part 3 (Long)

Re: the Detroit News Time Capsule story

Folks -

First and foremost, a very Happy New Year from the Great White North.

Second, it is interesting to note, as a long-time former resident of the
south bank of the Detroit River (yes, Windsor is south of Detroit thanks to
a bend in the Detroit River) that there was no mention in dealing with the
Detroit time capsule of any archival institution in the Motor City.

No City of Detroit Municipal Archives...and that is in itself a tragedy
that a major North American centre does not have such a facility.

No mention of where the documents will repose after this evening's
festivities.

Use of the Detroit Insitutue of Arts for preservation of archival
materials...now no offense to anyone at the DIA - it does house one of
three branches of the Smithsonian Archives of American Art - but...the
Wayne State University Archives of Labour and Urban Affairs also has as I
recall conservation facilities, and could have been a great home for the
contents of the capsule in the absence of a municipal facility....The
Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library is another
possible home...Clarence Burton himself was undoubtedly there in 1901 when
the capsule was sealed...

Reference was made in the Detroit News article to Cadillac and the
tricentennial of the founding of Detroit... if he were speaking on this
subject, he might say in his best early 18th century French, "Plus ca
change, plus c'est le meme chose..." - the more things change, the more
they stay the same...the battle for putting archives forward is still on
...there is much to do...it is a slugfest, and the one still standing at
the end is the winner.

Now, in response to Bill's message below, until the management of the
entire lifecycle of the record is taken seriously, the format will not
matter.  The reference to digital versus microrm medium/format does touch
upon the substitution of technology for management of recorded
information...ah but that is another subject entirely and today is a
holiday.

Finally, allow me to provide the passage that I have always found most
inspiriational when battered from the "slugfest" and wondering just why I
should still remain standing and punching.  It is the opening pages of "The
Canadian Archives and Its Activities", written by Dominion Archivist Sir
Arthur G. Doughty in 1924.

"The activities of a country furnish material of perpetual interest to the
student of human affairs.  Through this material, centuries old and grey,
return again fresh in the vigour of youth; through this record are
refelected as in a mirror past hopes and aspirations, past glory and
defeat.  Of all national assests, archives are the most precious; they are
the gift of one generation to another and the extent of our care of them
marks the extent of our civilization.  Each day that passes is a triumph
for an archive, for each day some mere scrap of paper permits justice to
prevail.  And yet while so much of our happiness and safety as individuals,
and as a people, is inseperable from archives, the average man bestows
little thought either upon their commercial or their historical value.
Indeed those who are deeply concerned about these matters are not
infrequently accorded scant sympathy.  Serious minded people often question
the wisdom of preserving records, and the fiat is issued for their
destruction.  Nor is this altogether surprising.  For twenty years or more,
no one has required them.  Why should they be kept?

"As a rule, the papers of a given generation are seldom required after
their reception and primary use; but when personal touch with that period
has ceased, then these records assume a startling importance, for they
replace hands that have vanished and lips that are sealed..."

2001 is the next round...and I wish all the best to my colleagues, who like
myself, are in the ring and ready to answer the bell.

Cheers!

Mark



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