Don't throw away those materials! Protecting "History" in Stricken Areas February 21 17:45

Volunteer organizations scattered throughout the country are continuing to rescue historical materials damaged by disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons. These organizations, which are called “historical material (material) nets,” run around the disaster-stricken area during a disaster to rescue old documents that are about to be discarded, and then take time to take measures to prevent deterioration. This activity started with the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Why are we doing that and what can we do? (Soutaro Iwata, Reporter, Science and Culture Department)

What is "History Net"?

A downpour in western Japan. I was in the stricken area of ​​Okayama Prefecture and was interviewing me, and encountered the activity of "Okayama Historical Material Net".

Researchers of Japanese history went to the facilities where the supplies were distributed and handed out flyers calling for "do not throw away the historical materials in the water."

After that, he was contacted by the affected library, and while the sun was shining, he rescued old documents, folk implements, and official documents.

The East Japan Typhoon (Typhoon No. 19), which caused great damage in various places last October.

In February in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, the "Fukushima Historical Material Preservation Network" sprayed alcohol for disinfection on materials rescued and continued to prevent deterioration.

In the event of a disaster, historical materials in the affected house may be thrown away as disaster garbage along with household items and the like.

"History Material Net" is a volunteer organization that rescues and prevents deterioration in order to eliminate such lost historical materials.

Triggered by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake

The starting point of the "History Internet" activity was the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake 25 years ago.

The "History Material Network" was launched, led by the Kansai Historical Society. He thought that historical materials that were not designated as cultural properties were indispensable for knowing the history of the area, and he rescued old documents and so on by going around the damaged old houses and going to places where they were contacted.

The motivation for this activity is that disasters must not disrupt local history.

Professor Hiroshi Okumura of the Kobe University Graduate School, who is a representative member of the Historical Resources Network, recalls that while he was shouting at rescue and rebuilding his life at the time, he did not know whether he could do such an activity, but he did groping. .

Prof. Okumura: "First of all, we started with rescue lives, and there was an evacuation center, so we didn't know when we could start working or what kind of activities we could do in the first place. Two weeks after the disaster When I started my activities in the month, I was welcomed by the citizens, saying, "I wish I had come earlier," or "There are other places." I fumbled and fought while discussing what was important. That was the start. "

Frequent disasters Spreading activities in various places

Amid frequent disasters in various parts of the country, the number of organizations has now increased to 25, and activities are spreading to various places.

Following the "History Material Network", the Santo Historical Data Network, which operates in Tottori and Shimane prefectures, was launched in the wake of the 2000 Tottoriken Seibu Earthquake. Groups have started in Hiroshima and Yamaguchi.

At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, there were already groups in Miyagi and Fukushima, but new ones in Iwate and Ibaraki.

Organizations started up in Kumamoto in the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake and in Nagano in the last typhoon in Japan.

Also, on February 16, the Tokai Resource Net was newly launched in anticipation of a huge earthquake in the Nankai Trough.

The size and method of activity vary, and many researchers and students from history participate.

Okumura initially thought that the activities would be completed in about one year, but he is still working as a coordinator when disasters happened in various places and study sessions for citizens to leave the damaged historical materials. Continue.

Professor Okumura: "At the time of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, I thought that the" History Material Network "was created and it would be over. However, when disasters occurred one after another, local people, museums and universities created" History Net ". It spread further after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and we began to cooperate with each other to preserve historical materials.

Share issues at 25-year meetings

25 years since the activity started. On February 8 and 9, a “National Historical Material Network Research Exchange Meeting” was held in Kobe City.

Approximately 100 people from all over the country gathered and reported on the activities of organizations such as Nagano and Fukushima, which were affected by the typhoon in Japan last October.

In this, several issues were raised.

In order to respond to disasters that occur every year, an organization should be set up as soon as possible in areas where there is no “historical material net”.

And to know where and what historical materials are available so that they can be rescued immediately in the event of a disaster.

Professor Okumura: "I am very grateful that people from all over the country can talk about various cases in this way. Reconstruction from a disaster is basically better than before, but before the disaster occurred, In the era, if you do not know how this area has historically been made, you can not make anything better than that. I think it is important to spread the organization in the region, so it is a big issue, but I want to spread it nationwide and think about how to maintain the connection. ''

What can we do?

There are some things we can do to preserve historical materials.
Professor Koichi Abe of Fukushima University, who is the representative of the “Fukushima Historical Archives Network,” pointed out the points.

First of all, it is important to take precautionary measures such as keeping it in a high place so that it will not be damaged.

Even things that are commonplace today, such as photographs, diaries, newspapers, and flyers, could become a valuable historical resource for knowing the area in 100 years. Be careful not to suffer what you think is important.

If you are affected, the first priority should be to drain water. They want to wrap them in kitchen paper or old newspapers, take the first steps of absorbing water by pressing them, and contact the local government's board of education and the "History Net".

What I feel through interviews is the strong desire of those involved in this activity to preserve any historical material.

Once a disaster strikes, local historical materials can be lost at once, and if not prevented, not only will the local history be lost, but it will also be impossible to examine the past.

I want to keep telling the importance of protecting historical materials by following the activities of the "History Material Net."

Science and Culture Reporter
Sotaro Iwata joined in 2011. After working at Utsunomiya Broadcasting Station, was in charge of general culture at the Science and Culture Department. It mainly covers history and cultural assets, as well as subcultures such as anime and manga.