A collection of rediscovered documents will soon give Wellesley researchers a new perspective into the township’s earliest days. At its Monday night meeting, Wellesley council approved a $350 grant for the Wellesley Township Heritage and Historical Society to preserve municipal records dating as far back as 1852.
The records, which were found in a township office vault in November, are “among the oldest and most significant township documents known to exist,” said Nancy Maitland, curator for the historical society.
The documents include council minutes from December 1866 to 1973; bylaws from 1852 to 1946; minutes from the Board of Health from 1885 to 1960; Wellesley Police Village minutes from 1908 to 1961; and birth, marriage and death registers from 1884 to 1948.
“They comprise about two shelves in the vault in the township office. There are about 40, or a few more, items on those two shelves,” said Maitland.
“What kind of condition are the ones from 1866?” asked Mayor Ross Kelterborn.
“They’re in surprisingly good condition,” replied Maitland.
The historical society requested funds to purchase acid-free containers in which to store the records, as well as to purchase other items to guarantee their preservation, such as cotton gloves. The $350 grant will be financed from the Jake Koehler Estate Fund, which offers money for historical projects.
Council quickly agreed on measures to preserve the paper documents, with discussion turning to how best to make them accessible to researchers. The historical society outlined a number of measures.
“Would it not be feasible to have all these things microfiched?” asked Coun. Jim Olender.
“We would need to get a microfilm reader,” replied Maitland. “That’s kind of an old technology. I suppose they could be digitized, but that would be a large expense.” She estimated the expense of digitization in the thousands.
Wellesley Township currently has plans to digitize its documents, and now intends to make these records part of this ongoing archiving process.
“If we’re going to store them in some special container, that’s fine. But long term, we would be looking at having them scanned along with everything else,” said Will McLaughlin, the township’s executive director of corporate/operations.
“Regardless of what we do with them in the future, they should be put in acid-free containers as fast as possible,” said Ron Hackett, chair of the historical society.
Further information on the documents will soon be made available on the Wellesley Heritage and Historical Society’s website (www.wellesleyhistoricalsociety.org); members of council also agreed to announce the documents’ availability on the township’s site.