Title Maché

Soggy paper. “Paper is everywhere — floating in the water, trapped in tree branches,? says the Los Angeles Times. For instance, in the basement of the Civil District Courthouse, three bocks from the Superdome, water has lapped over 20 per cent of the 60,000 leather bound books that contain records of all the property transfers in the modern era. “We don’t have deeds in New Orleans,? said Stephen Bruno, custodian of the archives. “Whatever our records say, that’s who owns the property.?
The Globe and Mail, Sept. 14 2005, p.A22

Can you imagine the difficulty? Legal research meets document restoration.

A report from September 5 has this to say:

Specialists working for the New Orleans Notorial Archives have been stymied while trying to get downtown to rescue some of the most historic documents in the city’s history, from original land grants to slave sale records and title records.

Federal troops have refused to let them through checkpoints into the city.

The Notorial Archives hired Munters Corp., a Swedish document salvage firm that freezes and then freeze-dries records to slowly remove moisture from them, to rescue the documents. But Munters refrigerated trucks were turned away by uniformed troops as they tried to enter the city, said Stephen Bruno, custodian of the archives.

Surely the records are safe in some computer file in a bunker in Kansas.

Most governments have digitized their real estate records, and Bruno was just about to hire a firm to transfer many of the documents in the archive to the computer. But at the Notorial Archives, most abstractors still do hand searches of the 12 million stored documents.

“We’re still in the horse and buggy days,? Bruno said.

Wow, is all I can say. Teranet might want to come calling, if the price is right.

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