Project restores and preserves vital Cass County historical documents

By Ben Woods

Cass County Clerk Jamie O’Rand recently had 27 volumes of vital historical documents restored as part of the Archival and Preservation Project. 
“It is part of the state library’s requirements that every clerk complete this preservation project,” said O’Rand.  
The documents were restored and preserved by KOFILE, a company that specializes in the field. 
“Now that these documents have been preserved and archived they will last indefinitely,” said O’Rand. 
All of the documents restored were marriage documents and some dated as far back as 1886. The restoration of the documents took a total of six months to complete and cost $84,878.83.
O’Rand plans to have more documents restored in the future. “We have a lot of documents that need attention,” said O’Rand. 
The funds used for the cost of the document restoration are specially set aside, collected through different fees the Cass County Clerk’s Office charges.  
“I wanted to accomplish this in the first two years in office and this is something that I geared towards after I first came into office, and assessed how many books were going to need to be repaired and archived -- and we have quite a few, so this is just the first round of projects to come,” said O’Rand. 
The public is welcome to come and view these documents. But before they were restored the clerk’s office was leery of letting people view and handle them because they were fragile. 
“In the past people have viewed the documents and did not take care of them,” said O’Rand. “We are working on now gathering all of the handwritten documents and those are the most deteriorated because they date back to the beginning of the time here.”
The records will deteriorate from handling, which damages the bindings and pages. 
If the volumes that are being restored are bound they are carefully removed from their original binding materials such as thread and adhesive residues. Some of the older manuscripts have protein-based binding adhesives such as fish, bone, or rabbit-skin glues.
During the restoration process they remove tape, adhesives and old repairs as much as possible without further degrading the original document. 
In the encapsulation process the document is put into a pocket that is made with a special type of plastic that will not distort or melt in case of fire.
The pocket is welded closed on three sides and the binding seals the fourth, and this seals out pollutants. 
After the documents are sealed they are placed in a disaster-safe county binder that is proprietary to KOFILE and this provides protection from water, fire and other disruption.

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