In 2014 we implemented our Adopt-a-Book Program. To date over 44 items have been adopted by 22 donors. We started this program as a way to raise money for the conservation of materials from across our collections, especially those that we might need to send out for conservation because of an object’s size or special needs.
This was a perfect item to put up for adoption due to its size, the amount of tape removal needed, and its need to be lined. This blueprint is 52-1/8″ by 40-1/8″. It is too large to fit comfortably in our washing sink, and we have no suction table or karibari board to facilitate the lining. We also wanted a digital image and facsimile reproduction made so that the original could be safely housed while the facsimile could be displayed.
Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Corey, we were able to send this drawing to the Northeast Document Conservation Center for treatment. You can see from the images below that the treatment was truly transformative. NEDCC conservators removed 91 linear inches of tape, reduced the staining from the adhesive, washed it and repaired the tears and losses, and finally lined it with Japanese tissue. NEDCC digitally captured the drawings and made a 1:1 physical print of the file for us to use as our use copy.
Written by Grace White, Special Collections Conservator
I recently had the pleasure of treating a group of the Philip Turner Papers from the History of Medicine collection held in the Rubenstein Library. Philip Turner was a Surgeon General for the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and this particular bundle of papers contained military hospital returns for 1778. The 30 papers record soldiers’ injuries and illnesses such as dysentery, fever, scurvy, rheumatism, inoculations for smallpox and occasional battle wounds.
The papers had been crudely stitched together with thread, making it nearly impossible to lift and read any one page. The bundle had also been folded and creased, and there was evidence of water damage with stains, mold and many tears and losses.
I removed and saved the thread and began my treatment of the individual papers. I surface cleaned them all to remove dirt and loose mold spores, and then I washed them with water and solvents to kill any remaining mold and to reduce staining and acidity. Finally I mended and flattened the papers and housed them in a folder. They are much safer for researchers to use now, and their visual appearance is also much improved. These kinds of projects are so rewarding.
As a side note, one interesting discovery I made was that several of the papers are watermarked with a crowned “GR” for George Rex, the king of Great Britain and Ireland. Using imported British paper was probably not uncommon in the colonies, but the Georgian watermark is an irony for papers of the revolutionary army.