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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Who owns abondoned documents?

Recently a large group of documents belonging to Todd Shipyards Corporation were discovered in the possession of the IKEA corporation who had purchased the former shipyard property. The documents along with other abandoned Shipyard property was found by Carolina Salguero, the founder of PortSide NewYork, a waterfront themed cultural and educational institution.

Salguero recovered the documents but then it appears Todd Shipyard wanted them back. You can read more about the story New deal snatches maritime documents from the trash heap, but my question is, why does Todd Shipyards have a right to the documents. They clearly deserted them, moved away without taking them, and then made no effort to recover them. IKEA did not even know they existed, so why would they not then belong to PortSide New York? And thinking many documents do we hold that were abondoned and added to our collections only after having been found by a third party?

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