News has broken that there has been serious flood at the facilty which houses the famous Harvard Plate Collection. Sara Schnecner reports :
The situation was much worse than related so far. An 8-inch water main broke outside the window of the plate stacks, and the lower level filled with more than 3 feet of muddy water. Over 60,000 plates and their enclosures were soaked. The plate scanner was ruined as was much other equipment. Photographic emulsions should not get wet, much less the annotated paper jackets. Harvard’s crack team of photographic conservators was called in and spent days working round the clock to pull out the wet plates and jackets and freeze dry them. Over time, they will have to slowly work through the material, documenting each one before and after cleaning and rejacketing. Insurance is paying to replace the scanner and equipment, but it will be many months before the DASCH project is back on its feet. It is a nightmare.
Sara J. Schechner, Ph.D. David P. Wheatland Curator of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments Lecturer on the History of Science Department of the History of Science, Harvard University
Yes, really bad news and another good reason why we should try to get as many plate archives scanned as soon as possible. There is a huge amount of historical data in those archives. The DASCH project is a really good example of this (see here) and I hope that they can recover from this disaster.