State Historical Society ready to assist Iowans impacted by flooding
Museums, art galleries, libraries, historical property owners urged to contact SHSI

For immediate release April 30, 2008


Contact: Jeff Morgan,, (515) 281-3858

(DES MOINES) –The State Historical Society of Iowa is urging museums, art galleries and libraries; owners of historically significant properties; and local historical societies to call for technical assistance with flood-damaged structures, collections and artifacts.

Iowans can contact SHSI’s State Curator Jerome Thompson at 515-281-4221 or for technical assistance and referrals to qualified conservators and preservation specialists who may offer literature, on-site evaluations and recommendations.

“Water can cause enormous damage to historical documents, artifacts, government records and art collections,” Thompson said. “A single flood can erase substantial portions of a community’s unique recorded history, and water distorts paper and causes ink and other media to run or even disappear. Wet records, artifacts and art pieces can grow mold within 48 hours, so even a small water disaster requires a prompt response.”

Thompson said Iowans may want to visit the American Institute for Conservation Web page at The Web site is hosted by Stanford University and offers a wide variety of disaster response and recovery information, including a four-page guide called “Emergency: If You’re First,” which SHSI has incorporated into its disaster recovery plan.

The National Park Service also offers disaster recovery information on-line at; Thompson suggests Iowans conduct an Internet search for “National Park Service Conservograms” to access the information quickly.

Meanwhile, Iowans can eliminate or reduce their risk of water damage of historical documents, artifacts, government records and art collections by following these tips:

  • Do not place storage boxes, artifacts or paintings directly on the floor. Set them on pallets – plastic, if possible – that are higher than floor level.
  • Install water alarms in basements or other low-level areas to warn of rising water during times when the building is closed.
  • Link all alarm systems to a security office or other location that is staffed 24 hours a day.
  • Immediately air dry or freeze wet records to prevent further damage and mold growth.
  • Be prepared for disasters by developing contacts with appropriate consultants and vendors beforehand, not after the fact.

“Of course, if flooding is imminent, we encourage Iowans to take preventive measures by relocating documents, artifacts and collections to higher ground,” Thompson said.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state.

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