Miyagi Network News vol.151

~The Rescue Operation for the Historical Archives collected by the Group for Ishinomaki’s Old Archives~

Protection of the Result of Local Group’s Preservation Activities

This is Daisuke Sato, the secretariat officer of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials. Today I will report about the rescue operation on 15th September for the historical materials which had been collected by the Group for Ishinomaki Old Archives.

Tha damaged materials in Mr Shoji's library

The Group for Ishinomaki Old Archives is a group for researching local history, which has had over 25-year-experience of investigation in Ishinomaki City. They have gathered and interpreted the old archives which had remained in the old families around the Ojika Peninsula, the Kitakami River valley, and Ishinomaki City before the consolidation of municipalities, and they have already published tens of the list of the old archives and source books. Mr Keiichi Shoji, who is the leader of the group, has offered us much precious information about the historical materials around the Ishinomaki City before the East Japan Earthquake, and we have worked together for the preservation activity for long time.

At the Earthquake on 11th March, the Tsunami completely flooded the ground floor in Mr Shoji’s house, and the historical materials and the data which had been conserved in his library were also affected. In such a difficult situation, he gave us the information about the local historical materials damaged by the Tsunami. Based on his efforts, we could rescue many valuable archives such as Onagawacho Kimura family’s archives (please see “Miyagi Network News vol.124”).

The rescued materials in the wagon

Simultaneously, in terms of the materials concerned with the Group for Ishinomaki Old Archives, on the basis of Mr Shoji’s report 10 days after the quake, Miyagi Network had targeted them for the rescue operation during the early stages. However, the response had been extremely delayed because of keeping up with the other operations, so we were at last able to visit the field half a year after the East Japan Earthquake.

According to the information as of 8th September, the rail of walking stacks were not able to be moved due to rust, so that it seemed difficult to take out the materials which were contained in the cardboard boxes. For this reason, this time I headed to the field just for confirming their present condition myself. However, as I arrived at Mr Shoji’s house, the stacks were able to be moved when he checked them and prepared for my visitation, he said. As a result, we could confirm the extent of damage of these materials which amounted to over 30 cardboard boxes.

In the library, the degree of airtightness was very high; the inside of the library was flooded to only 30cm although outside of the ground floor was submerged. Therefore, the piles of the cardboard boxes narrowly escaped the Tsunami except for the 5 boxes which were in the lowest area. Considering my physical strength, in a moment I hesitated to take out them alone; however the situation had been prepared for transferring as it fitted my visitation, and the materials which were flooded seemed to require urgent rescue, moreover I visited there with a wagon which was offered by the Rescue Committee for Cultural Properties. Consequently, after discussing with the secretariat office in Sendai by phone, I decided that I could take out all of the materials by myself. With Mr Shoji’s help, those were successfully carried out in an hour operation.

The photos of historical materials whose original documents were already disappeared

The materials which were rescued this time involved not only the photocopied-paper, monochrome and colour photos, and the manuscripts which had been the source for their book, but also the actual old archives concerned with the Sendai Domain in the Edo period, which had been collected by Mr Shoji. According to him, the original historical materials which had been preserved especially in the coastline area were disappeared by the Tsunami, so the photocopied materials which he owned could be the only existed documents. However, due to the delay of the rescue operation, especially the photos were in a serious condition. With regard to them, we are carrying out the urgent measure with the volunteers who have expertise of treating photographs.

In this time, we rescued the results by the Group for Ishinomaki Old Archives, which they had been conserving continuously and steadily for over 20 years before the activity of the Miyagi Network. This was a very good opportunity to learn that the people who played a part in protecting the historical materials in local area were indeed the people who assembled the local history group which cherished their own community’s history such as the Group for Ishinomaki Old Archives. Furthermore, Mr Shoji offered us to widely share his historical materials with people, with this rescue operation as a start. We would like to discuss about it cooperated with the Group for Ishinomaki Old Archives.

To protect the result of Local Group’s Preservation Activities, and to share them with people. Through the rescue operation, we could realise another new issue for preserving activities.


NB: In this article, we use Mr Keiichi Shoji’s name clearly, because we got an approval from him and in the broadcasting about rescue operation for Onagawacho Kimura Family’s Archives, his name was already revealed.

NB: The photos are all from the homepage of  the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.


About Nerwork for Historical Materials
A volunteer group for preserving Cultural Heritage suffered from natural disasters

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