Rebate check helps archives preserve Civil War documents
Appeal Staff Writer
Some of Nevada’s historic Civil War documents received hope of restoration Wednesday thanks to a donation from a local foundation.
Foundation 36, a nonprofit organization founded by former gaming executive Bill Watson, announced a donation of $1,000 to the Nevada State Library and Archives.
The money will be used for an assessment of the state’s Civil War Muster Rolls.
“I believe their use for the gift is exemplary,” Watson said. “I visited this building six months ago and saw how thinly staffed they are. I saw documents decaying in the basement that need to be preserved.”
The muster rolls consist of 260 pages containing the records of soldiers during the Civil War era. They include information such as name, rank, number, dates of enlistment or commissioning, dates mustered in and mustered out, branch of service, place of birth, residence and a physical description.
Many of the rosters and muster rolls have space for remarks, in which information about discharges, courts martial, deaths, desertions and promotions are noted.
“This will allow us to preserve the rolls in a way that we couldn’t before,” said Guy Rocha, state archivist. “In terms of military history during the territorial period, these are Nevada’s Civil War history.”
The gift is the first issued by Foundation 36. Watson said the majority of the money donated came from motor vehicle rebates issued by the state in 2005.
“The State of Nevada made possible the first contribution that is going back to help the people of Nevada,” Watson said.
Watson was the founder of Casino Marketplace, which he later sold to Alliance Gaming. He established Foundation 36 in January to fund environmental, wilderness and historic preservation initiatives.
According to State Archives Manager Jeff Kintop, the money will be used to do an assessment to determine the amount of time and money needed to repair and preserve the documents.
Once that assessment is completed and funding is acquired, the tape used to make previous repairs will be removed and the documents will be rehumidified and flattened out. Then a grated eraser will be used to clean the surface dirt from the rolls and they will be de-acidified and encapsulated in Mylar for preservation.
Because of their delicate nature, the rolls are not on permanent display. However, names and basic information from them is available online. All of the rolls have also been microfilmed to make them more accessible for research purposes.
“Young people don’t see records like this anymore. It’s artwork in the handwriting. It’s a snapshot in time for record-keeping practices,” Rocha said.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.