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By Kitty Tynan
Corrales Historical Society Archives Committee

At the end of November, while watching the Corrales Fire Department use the “jaws of life” to open the time capsule from the Village’s 25th anniversary of incorporation, Mayor Jo Anne Roake knew she and her team needed help. To rescue the waterlogged contents of the time capsule, she reached out to Corrales Historical Society (CHS) member Anne Van Camp, a retired professional archivist who had recently moved to Corrales.

After assessing the materials, Van Camp asked for help from the society’s Archives Committee. Mary Davis, long-time unofficial Village historian and I (a retired university librarian) answered the call. We removed the materials to the former Jones residence west of the post office, made available to us  by the mayor and Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts, and spread them out to dry.

The three of us quickly determined that the album of photographs was a complete loss. The photos looked like abstract watercolors as the emulsion had melted away. That left two albums of documents.

The papers were spread out over several large tables, interleaved with plain paper to absorb moisture. Blocks of drying documents were gently separated into individual sheets, and plain paper again inserted to continue soaking up the moisture. In this way, over the course of several days, the majority of the documents were salvaged.

Some papers could not be saved, but they could, in most cases, be identified as items (mostly books) that already exist in the CHS archives or as articles from local newspapers that can probably be found and duplicated.

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Materials that could not be saved were photographed to document their existence and condition and then discarded to prevent the spread of the mold that was inevitably growing on the damp paper.

As pages were separated or photographed, the group created a descriptive inventory of all the materials. We then took the saved documents to the Village offices and spent several hours carefully photocopying every page. In many cases the photocopies made it possible to read documents that were so badly water damaged that the print was almost illegible.

An article in the December 4 Corrales Comment, reporting on the opening of the time capsule, provided information to help identify many of the lost photographs, and Barbara Williams of the Archives Committee was able to confirm that they are already in the CHS collection.

Among the materials rescued from the time capsule are extensive materials about the plans for  the 25th anniversary celebration, planning and advertising materials for the Corrales Harvest Festival, documents regarding the Village’s incorporation, materials about the organization and early meetings of Corrales Horse and Mule People (CHAMP), information about local businesses, and a directory of all residents of the Village.

Sadly, some original handwritten items could not be saved. Most notably, there was a spiral bound notebook that was completely fused together. If anyone knows what that notebook contained, please reach out to the CHS Archives (chsarchives@corraleshistory.org).

The Village will receive a copy of the inventory as well as the photocopies of the salvaged documents. Corrales Historical Society will also keep copies. In addition, copies of some of the materials will be given to the organizations that originally donated them.

We’ve learned some lessons for the 50th anniversary of Corrales’ incorporation time capsule, for which materials are being collected:

  • Use a waterproof container!
  • “Bury” it above ground.
  • Store a second copy of everything separately.

Anyone with suggestions for what to include in the 50th anniversary time capsule should email Village Clerk Melanie Romero, (mromero@corrales-nm.org)

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