MTU archives return after treatment

HOUGHTON – After surviving an Oct. 26 fire in the Michigan Technological University Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, seven pallets of documents returned to the facility today from Philadelphia after being treated for water damage.

Erik Nordberg, university archivist, said the documents being returned were soaked from the building’s sprinkler system and fire department hoses, not necessarily burned.

“The fire itself didn’t affect that much,” he said.

Erik Nordberg, Michigan Technological University archivist, center, watches this morning as the first of seven pallets of treated documents damaged in an Oct. 26 fire are returned to the archives. The documents were sent to a facility in Philadelphia which removed moisture and treated them to kill mold and fungus.

Nordberg said, the night of the fire, boxes of water-soaked material were first sent to Green Bay where they were frozen.

“We sent off almost 800 boxes of material,” he said.

The documents were then transported to a company called Belfor in Milwaukee, which specializes in disaster recovery. They were then sent to Philadelphia, where some of the documents were freeze-dried, and some were dried using a desiccant.

“Those are both designed to remove moisture,” he said.

All the documents received gamma radiation treatment to kill any mold or fungus, Nordberg said.

The shipment which arrived today was the first of three, Nordberg said. Now, the archives staff will have to go through all the documents to determine if some just can’t be salvaged.

The documents saved will have to be relabeled, reboxed, then reshelved.

He hopes the archives will be fully operational by April 2. However, it’s uncertain when all the water-soaked documents will be returned.

Nordberg said he and his staff are glad to finally have the documents returning to the archives.

“We’re very excited,” he said.