photo: employee stands in front of many pallets of boxes filled with records.

Preserving WAPA’s historical documents

Photo: On Oct. 24, 2022, An employee of the National Archives and Records Administration checks out the latest in dock of 250 WAPA permanent and long-term temporary records boxes for its Rocky Mountain region. The records will be processed and housed in NARA’s Federal Records Center, in Broomfield, Colo. Photo by Jen Neville.

Story by Jen Neville

In an age of email, online forms and electronically signed contracts, paper gets a bad rap. However, many of WAPA’s historically significant records are typed or written down, including old land surveys, original power contracts, construction and engineering records and much more. On Oct. 24, 2022, WAPA’s Rocky Mountain region transferred more than 250 boxes of records to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Federal Records Center in Broomfield, Colo.  

At the FRC repository, these historic documents will continue to be protected and preserved for WAPA’s future use and reference. 

“The FRC is designed with environmental and other controls to support the long-term management of paper records,” WAPA Records and Information Management Program Manager Chris Magee said.  

The transferred records now take up 253 cubic feet of storage in NARA’s Broomfield FRC, which frees up space in WAPA’s Loveland warehouse. Several of the records are permanent, meaning NARA will keep them forever and eventually make them publicly available. Other records are classified as “long-term temporary,” meaning WAPA needs them for business purposes for 50 years, or even 100 years. 

“Many of the records we sent to the FRC are life-of-asset records created in the 1950s to 1970s. The type of paper from that era can disintegrate and become more fragile with time; think onion skin carbon copy paper,” Magee said. “Storing these records in the FRC’s optimal conditions, lengthens the time these records are useable.” 

The work to prepare the records for transfer took almost three quarters of a year.  

“This was a heavy lift to have our team focused on meeting NARA deadlines for submitting paper records. Our team, including Chris and Sara, did a great job reaching our goal while navigating pandemic conditions and still maintaining our daily operational priorities,” said Rocky Mountain Administrative Officer Kellie Petty, mentioning Records and Information Management Specialist Sara Frey.  

“And now, these vital documents that still relate to the work we do today, are protected and available for decades to come,” Petty said. 

The Loveland Records program contracted support from Cherokee Federal in January 2022 to inventory each box’s content as well as organize, label and stage the boxes on seven pallets. Then the Records team updated WAPA’s record tracking system as well as submitted a transfer request to NARA. 

“This effort could not be done by any single person,” Magee said. “This required the combined effort of WAPA’s Records and Information Management Program, RM’s administrative officer and management analysts, RM’s Facilities and Property Management Program, the records owners themselves and staff at the National Archives at Denver. 

“I’m excited to see offices take control of their legacy paper records and better understand how they relate to current work,” he added.  

Story and photos by Jen Neville

Now, WAPA’s most important records for Rocky Mountain have a permanent home, where they are accessible and properly cared for while freeing up storage space in the Loveland warehouse. 

“This effort embodied WAPA’s mission to ‘Seek. Share. Partner.’ Everyone came together, and we solved some long-term information management challenges,” Magee said. 

Note: The author is a management analyst. 

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Last modified on March 11th, 2024