Native American documents take refuge at Southern library


An arson at Missouri University’s library has given Missouri Southern a chance to hold some invaluable documents.

“These are documents from the Committee of Indian Affairs,” Lydia Welhan, technical services of Spiva Library, said. “A lot of senate hearings and documents — some dating back to 1867 — but they go all the way up to current senate committees. They were housed at the Missouri University’s library but they recently had an arson fire that destroyed a lot of their shelving units. 

“Their sprinklers went off and they had several inches of standing water which caused them to have to rip apart the carpets and when they did that they realized there was asbestos in the building so they had to rip apart the entire floor and move all of these documents — several thousand of them — so they found different universities around the state to move these collections to store them while they’re repairing their building.”

The reason Missouri Southern was given these particular documents is the location of the school in relation to the Oklahoma border. Currently the library is working on adding the documents to the digital catalogue, which they expect to be ready by January.

“It’s about 13 shelves shy of 1000 documents and most of it is going to be freely available to the public,” Welhan said. “There a couple of older things from the 1800s and such that  are fragile and there aren’t a lot of copies of it available that will be kept in archives for preservation so patrons  will still be able to view them in archives.

“We’re actually hoping to develop a special collection on the fourth floor of our Native American materials to highlight all of the stuff that we have,” she said.