PROTECTING PUBLIC ARCHIVES.
The destruction by fire of the Patent Office at Washington, and the investigation had into its origin and cause, has again called attention to the fact that all public records should be kept in buildings that are absolutely fire-proof. There is not a government building in Washington that is so, and the rerords contained in them are liable to be destroyed, at any moment. The Treasury Department is no better protected against fire than was the Patent Office; should the Treasury be burned, the loss of records | would he irreparable. In New York city j the public buildings are no more secure, i The Hall of Records, as the insignificant | little building east of the City Hall is | pretentiously called, wherein are kept the records of real estate titles in this county, is an old rattle-trap of a bnildj ing, liable to be consumed any day. The wonder is that it has so long survived disaster. A fire which should destroy the records contained in that building would be a national calamity. So many persons are interested in real estate in | New York, that the destruction of the records of title would be a calamity that would be felt in all sections of the country. There are no duplicates of them During the unrestricted reign of the Tweed King, a printing company in which “Boss” Tweed, Charles E. Wilbour, Cornelius Corson, and others, were interested, proposed a grand steal by means of copying the public records. They wero to be copied in a fair, bold hand, then transferred to stone and lithographon parchment. Several copies of eachrecord were to be printed, and filed in separate places. The work was prosecuted to a considerable extent, a number of women having been employed for months in copying the records. But the exposuro of the ring came, Tweed was arrested, Corson and Wilbour sought more congenial climes, and the project fell through. Although conceived in iniquity and prosecuted for plunder, tho idea was a good one. Such valuable records ar the titles to the real estate in this city, should nover depend for safety upon one such building as tho Hall o° Records. What trouble would ensue from their destruction was illustrated by the nreat fire in Chicago, when all the ooonty records were burned. A private law firm had duplicates of many of them, and made a fortune in supplying copies. All public records should be kept in dupljcate, in fire-proof buildings, widely removed from each other. Tho utter disregard shown by the public in this matter of public buildings, is characteristic of the recklessness of Americans.
_In the old European countries such buildings are constrvcted to last for centuries, and such a thing as the destruction by fire ef public records is never heard of Our people pay taxes enough, certainly, to secure safe receptacles for the public archives, and they ought to insist that the public buildings to which they are entrusted should be fire-proof.