Story last updated at 10/23/2013 - 2:08 pm
The Alaska State Archives concluded its two-year Exxon Valdez Litigation Records Project on Sept. 30. The project, which appraised and organized 3,500 boxes of Alaska Department of Law Exxon Valdez court case records, began Oct. 31, 2011.
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (National Archives) provided staff salary for a project Archivist position. Three project staff appraised 3,500 boxes of records located in Juneau and about 2,600 boxes in Anchorage. They selected 918 boxes for permanent preservation in the State Archives, organized and cataloged them, and uploaded a catalog record to WorldCat, the world's largest online bibliographic database (http://alaskastatelibrary.worldcat.org/; OCLC identification number 856591471).
Project staff identified about 2,700 boxes in Juneau that do not have permanent value, and provided appraisal guidelines for both permanent and nonpermanent files still in Anchorage. In accord with the original Exxon Valdez civil settlement consent decree, Alaska and the United States submitted a detailed plan in 2006 for a proposed restoration project, the Reopener for Unknown Injury. Research to support the reopener is ongoing. Once resolved, Alaska will be able to dispose nonpermanent files in both Anchorage and Juneau, and permanent files in Anchorage will join those already in the State Archives.
The State Archives has already had reference inquiries. Two university students visited the Archives during August, and each spent several days reviewing Exxon Valdez records. Information gleaned will support research about news coverage and long-term impact of the spill.
Project staff made consistent efforts to reach out to the public, particularly those living in the spill region. Staff contacted cultural agencies to offer information about the State Archives collection and to find out about Exxon-related collections in spill area communities. To aid those who may want to study the Exxon Valdez incident, project staff created a website (http://archives.alaska.gov/valdezProject.html) to help navigate the complex waters of the spill, the response and court proceedings, including:
A 1,400 term dictionary of acronyms and other technical terminology
A list of more than 2,500 participants
A list of other resources and links, including those beyond the limitations of archival and cultural institutions
A Welcome Document to help the public use the website