All together, the papers would equal 350 stacks as tall as the Washington Monument.
But at the moment, 500 million pages -- raw material of history that will go into the District's first archives and records center -- are scattered at many sites.
The city plans to renovate the former offices of the Recorder of Deeds at 515 D St. NW as a home for the archives. An unused city-owned Northwest truck garage, in the middle of the block bounded by N, O, Ninth and Tenth streets will house the records center, said Philip Ogilvie, a special assistant in the office of the secretary, who is supervising the task of collecting the documents and planning their storage and preservation by 1990.
In December 1982, Ogilvie, a member of Mayor Marion Barry's transition team that served between the mayor's first and second terms of office, recognized the need for a place to preserve and maintain historic materials.
"We had never established a District archives, and the records program had become virtually nonexistent," said Ogilvie, who once worked at the National Archives and was an early supporter of Barry's.
Besides collecting the city's historic materials, Ogilvie is organizing the staffs for both the archives and the records center, planning for the renovation of the buildings to be used and setting up the operating procedures for both.
Ogilvie's office has found that city records have been stored "haphazardly" in offices throughout the city, while others were either thrown away or kept unprotected in damp attics, basements and warehouses, he said.
"No matter how bad they may be," the agencies have them should save them, Ogilvie said.
Currently, he has been gathering the historic materials from storage in various D.C. agencies and the federal records storage center in St. Louis, as part of the archives project that is expected to cost about $550,000 initially.
According to Ogilvie, it will cost an additional $1.5 million to renovate the building for the records center.
Ogilvie said he is also trying to collect documents from the National Records Center in Suitland, the National Archives, at Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventh Street NW, the Library of Congress and various city agencies.
The likelihood of obtaining originial documents from some places is "slim," said Ogilvie, and the city will have to settle for microfilmed copies.
The documents will include records of D.C. commissioners, who ran the city for nearly 100 years from 1874 to 1967, correspondence from the public, building permits and birth and death certificates.
"Basically," said Ogilvie, "they are the original information from which you compile the history of the District of Columbia."