Saturday, October 07, 2017

Church Preserves Precious Records of African Nation

Church Preserves Precious Records of African Nation. Newsroom. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 28 September 2017.  [YouTube]
     In Freetown, Sierra Leone, paper records dating back to the early 1800s are disintegrating at an alarming rate due to poor storage conditions, heat, humidity and frequent handling. The staff often pool money just to keep the lights on one or two days a week and were making a “frantic effort” to preserve copies of records by hand. “I had my heart broken because of the conditions of how these records are kept and the way that the people are working here, giving the best of themselves to preserve what they can for people and families of Sierra Leone.”  Despite valiant efforts by dedicated caretakers, rampant deterioration of the tattered records threatened to obliterate the very history of the nation. This changed with a plea from the government of Sierra Leone to the LDS president, asking for help in preserving the at-risk records.

The Church approved a project to image the dilapidated birth and death records and make them available online. FamilySearch has began the process of digitizing records in Freetown and in towns and remote villages across the country, and works with interfaith leaders such as The Catholic Church which has opened its record vaults to be part of the preservation project. “Any kind of record at all is crucially important because it becomes a database for future generations.” The preservation project will preserve some 4 million records.  FamilySearch is engaged in similar digitizing projects in countries all over Africa.

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