A team of Meyer relocation specialists moved thousands of documents within the Rhode Island state archives to their new facility, including some of its most valuable treasures dating back to 1638—one of the original 13 copies of the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and the Gaspee Commission Documents.
WPRI reported on the story, quoting R.I. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, “ Any kind of move of historic documents, of course, is stressful, but we have a really good team here that’s on top of it.”
Safely moving precious documents and artifacts requires meticulous planning and execution to be successful. After spending 30+ years in a building located in a flood zone, the Rhode Island state archives have been relocated to a new home a couple of blocks away. In 2015 it was revealed that taxpayers were spending $248,000 a year in rent to house the state archives in a flood-prone building. Thousands of documents were stored in the basement which was wired with alarms if a sump pump failed and water started to rise. The archives needed a new, archival-quality space, and also needed to be properly inventoried and protected.
Meyer provided specialized support for the move, drawing on deep experience in the safe and secure transportation of archival records and treasures. The first phase of the project included weeks of carefully mapping the archives to a new shelving configuration, leaving room for the collection to grow in its new home over time. The logistics planning included the remapping of over 6,000 items, each needing to be carefully transported to the new location.
The moving process came with its own care and consideration as well. Each cart or pallet was carefully wrapped and protected, and precious items were moved in a refrigerated truck to protect from heat and humidity. A police escort was even present to ensure the precious relics made it safely to their new home.
With decades of experience comes the ability to shift and adapt to meet challenges as they arise. Working within a relatively confined space, Meyer successfully staged and transitioned all items with precision, cataloging each piece using the latest inventory tracking and management technology. Inventory technology is critical to a move such as this where thousands of records are being mapped to a new space with a completely new schematic, and where a tremendous amount of staging is required.
The team also discovered some previously uncatalogued treasures along the way and were able to inventory and update the space planning to account for those new items. Included in those items was a moon rock, a piece of the moon gifted to each of the 50 states by President Richard Nixon, taken from the Taurus Littrow Valley during the Apollo 17 landing! Working to execute the move in the wake of Covid-19 also presented some delays and limitations but the Meyer team was able to adapt and complete the move successfully. Meyer believes the success of a project such as this is in the planning and logistics, and that no detail is too small. The planning was thorough and comprehensive, right down to the dimensions of each and every box placed on a shelf in the new facility.
The new location is archival standard worthy and has a climate-controlled vault where the historic materials will be stored safely for many years to come. The Meyer team is proud to have contributed to the success of the Rhode Island State Archives relocation project and to have played a small yet significant role in helping preserve these important aspects of the state’s history.
Learn more about the time and attention that go into preserving the past and protecting the future.