Barnstable Preserving Original Town Documents

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Barnstable Town Clerk Ann Quirk displaying a ledger from the 1700s.

Barnstable Town Clerk Ann Quirk displaying a ledger from the 1700s.

HYANNIS – The town of Barnstable is almost four centuries old and an effort is being made to preserve its earliest documents.

The Community Preservation Act Committee recently approved over $33,000 to preserve 22 volumes of documents.

“The issue is, is that it is all on paper,” said Town Clerk Ann Quirk. “They are hand written. The documents are beautiful but they are exposed to air.”

The documents are kept in a vault that is climate controlled at Town Hall.

“As time goes on the documents begin to fray and you lose pieces of your document and you lose words off the pages.”

The documents will be sent off to be deacidified and placed in a Mylar coating.

“We have the information from the first town meetings,” Quirk said. “We have the information from all the births, all the deaths and all the marriages that happened in Barnstable.”

Quirks said that she expects it to take about a year to get the first 22 volumes preserved.

“On a go forward basis, I have a lot more to take care of, at least 50 that have been identified,” she said. “In the big picture of things, what I would love to see is everything put on laserfiche.”

Quirk said having the volumes on laserfiche would help residents search through the documents much quicker than thumbing through books.

There are about 600 books on hand that are births, deaths and marriages.


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