Celebration is for another one of those things we take for granted

Today marks the end of a not-so-well-known week that was probably only celebrated by those who work in the three-story building on Stewart Street known as the Nevada State Library and Archives.

Though Archives Week was little celebrated, what it was meant to recognize is not without immense importance. And it's not too late to put in an appearance.

Archives Week, Oct. 24-30, activities will officially end with a celebration of the Nevada State Constitution at 4 p.m. Monday in the Joseph J. Anderson Gallery of the State Library and Archives.

Jeff Kintop, state archives manager, said "archives are the historical records that document our lives, our history and our heritage. They are proof of who we are, what we own and what really happened in history.

"Most people don't think about them until they are without them. Look what happened to the archives of Mississippi and Louisiana because of Hurricane Katrina. There are many archives and records that will have to be recovered, salvaged or recreated to document the lives and rights of those people there."

Kintop and volunteers from Silver City spent hours this past year restoring the documents that in their way tell the story of the small mining town. Damaged in a fire in the old schoolhouse in July 2004, the leather binding and cover of Silver City's community center ledger was burned and pages inside damaged not only by the fire but the efforts to douse it. Kintop told residents if they wanted to save the volume, which logged every meeting and event in the center back to 1983, they could help him do it.

For 22 years, Kintop worked to build the laboratory that allowed six volunteers to save this part of their town's history. He has plans for much more.

"We've got 12 million documents, and that doesn't include the microfilm," he said.

The documents in the archives include such things as all governors' proclamations "back to the Nevada territory and Gov. Nye through Gov. Miller's papers."

He said there are original legislative bills; proclamations; secretaries of state's records, including elections and appointments' original handwritten Supreme Court proceedings and opinions; state land patents, along with records from the old Children's Home dating to 1871; prison records dating to 1873; mental health hospital records and actions by hundreds of boards and commissions.

He said most exciting for the new conservation lab is the opportunity to teach other librarians, archivists and museum workers how to better preserve their collections. He said he has held six workshops for librarians and museum curators and is planning more. Eventually, he said he'd like to offer classes to even more people.

"When word gets around about this lab, people will want to get things done," he said.

On Monday, folks can get a look at Nevada's original Constitution.

Even though Nevada was the 36th state, there are only 17 state constitutions older than Nevada's.

Nevada's Constitution is a venerable document, often amended but still structurally sound, that has been in force for 141 years. The soundness of the structure is a testament to the wisdom and planning of the drafters, who convened in Carson City in 1864.

President Lincoln accepted the Constitution on Oct. 28, 1864, and declared Nevada a state. Nevada is one of 11 states that operate under its original constitution.

Refreshments will be provided along with a program on the Constitution's origins and what it means to us today featuring Kintop and Deputy Attorney General Jim Smith.

The display is part of the sixth annual Nevada Archives Week hosted by the State Historic Records Advisory Board to observe of the importance of archival and historical records.

The Nevada State Library and Archives, 100 N. Stewart St., is a division of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Department serves Nevada's citizens and visitors through preservation and promotion of cultural resources, cultural and information management, and education. The Department also includes the Division of Museums and History, State Historic Preservation Office, Nevada Arts Council, Comstock Historic District Commission, and the Commission for Cultural Affairs. For information, call 687-8323.

- Kelli Du Fresne is city editor for the Nevada Appeal. Contact her at kdufresne@nevadaappeal.com or at 881-1261.


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