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Archives Move Puts History in Motion

HATE moving? Be thankful you're not the National Archives.

It is carting thousands of boxes and crates of precious historical items - from rare Civil War photographs to Watergate scandal tapes - to a $250 million research building in suburban College Park, Md. Known as Archives II, the building features the most advanced pollution and environmental controls and state-of-the-art preservation technology.

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The move, which began yesterday, will take three years, require at least 1,300 truck loads, and cost $6.8 million, says Susan Cooper, spokesman for the National Archives and Records Administration. The movers will transport 7 million still pictures; 11 million charts, maps, and aerial photographs; 112,274 reels of motion pictures; and 200,122 sound and video recordings.

The items range from documents so old and fragile they cannot be exposed to sunlight to the cracked windshield of the limousine President Kennedy sat in when he was assassinated.

The windshield will be wrapped in plastic foam, put in a specially designed crate, and be transported along a special route to avoid potholes. The Watergate tapes will be transported in armored cars.

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