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Stephanie Baltzer Kom, who heads technical services for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, holds up 1913 world atlas that will be up for sale at the Heritage Center in Bismarck Tuesday, June 25, 2019. John Hageman / Forum News Service

History on sale: North Dakota State Archives offering books, newspapers and records

BISMARCK — North Dakota state archivists are running out of storage space, and they're enlisting the public's help to make room.

The State Archives will hold a sale Thursday and Friday at the Heritage Center in Bismarck to rid itself of duplicate items and things that aren't relevant to the state or region but have found its way into its collection. It will be their first sale in about 12 years, said Stephanie Baltzer Kom, head of technical services for the State Historical Society.

"We just have a lot of stuff," she said Tuesday, June 25.

Among the treasures are more than 4,000 audio records known as "78s," books, atlases, posters and sheet music. Some items date back to the 1800s.

North Dakota history buffs will find plenty of items of interest, including a book about the Nonpartisan League written by then-Attorney General William Langer, who went on to become the state's governor and a U.S. senator during a colorful political career. Copies of newspapers that are no longer in existence will be on hand, as well as government texts like a North Dakota legislative manual from 1893.

But the collection also includes some obscure items, such as shelves of vital records from the state of Massachusetts.

The State Archives is the depository for records of "enduring value" produced by state and local governments, according to its website, and it also holds research materials related to North Dakota and the region. Baltzer Kom said they get items through donations, state agencies and other organizations.

"The people who come in to research stuff in our archives, it's usually a very North Dakota-specific topic, or they're going through the government records," she said. "We have limited shelf space, and we have to have what people are going to use."

Proceeds from the sale will help buy preservation equipment and new collections.

The sale will be held 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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