Scrapbooks pose unique challenges in conservation. They often feature a wide variety of rapidly deteriorating modern materials and adhesives. Full treatment is typically difficult to justify among other priorities, so strategies of stabilization, digitization, and reformatting are often pursued.
TSLAC’s recent conservation work included an exceptional scrapbook, a 1950s-era volume that documents our own agency. This handmade book features correspondence and handouts of the era, along with special pages that highlight institutional departments and functions with photographs and whimsical construction paper cut-outs. The rubber cement used to adhere many of these attachments had failed. Fortunately, these pages had been previously stabilized in archival plastic sleeves to keep the pieces together.
This scrapbook was an unusually strong candidate for conservation for two reasons. First, a limited number of leaves involving a limited number of materials required intensive intervention. Second, the handmade item’s unique documentation of agency operations made it a rare artifact of special value to TSLAC.
During treatment, detached photographs and paper cut-outs were re-adhered with wheat starch paste. Placement was determined according to existing adhesive staining. Reconstructed pages were returned to their sleeves, and the full binding was housed in a new, oversize phase box for flat storage. Before and after photos offer a window into 1950s TSLAC operations and period design aesthetics.
Before: Legislative Reference
After: Legislative Reference
Before: Reading Room
After: Reading Room
After: Archives (note “Repair and Restoration,” lower right)
Posted in Conservation | Tagged conservation, materials, oversize, scrapbook, TSLAC | Leave a Comment »
Each spring, the preservation community celebrates Preservation Week and MayDay with special events that promote the preservation of cultural heritage. This May, TSLAC Conservation joins our State and Local Records Management Division in offering a free webinar, “Disaster Recovery and Salvage for Government Records,” on Thursday, May 22, at 10 AM Central Time. View course information at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/353363082
Though the course addresses some specific needs of government records managers, registration is open to all. Basics of physical recovery will be discussed along with legal obligations for state government. Learn about safely drying books, paper, photographs, and electronic media, as well as preparing for hazards such as flood, mold, and insects. Institutional recovery contracting and decision-making will be covered, with a special focus on Texas state and local records. This unique, collaborative course is newly updated from its 2012 debut as part of our 2014 preservation activities.
Insects thrive in warm, moist environments. They can cause extensive damage to record-keeping materials, as seen on the spine of this book.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged disaster recovery, education, Preservation Week, state and local records management, Texas, webinar | 1 Comment »
TSLAC Conservation recently worked on a remarkable volume called the Revised Statutes of the State of Texas, 1879. While most of TSLAC’s state House and Senate publications share the same format – legal-style print publications bound in brown sheepskin leather with one red and one black spine label – this volume had an unusual, custom cover label that indicated something special.
The custom label on the volume’s front cover says “Senate Bill No. 54”
Inside is the text of an omnibus bill, plus a surprise – extra, tipped-in sheets throughout the volume that feature hand-written annotations and revisions. The additional sheets are either unnumbered or hand-numbered to match the neighboring, printed pages, which are often correspondingly marked with edits.
Manuscript edits on the left page correspond with the crossed-out text at the top of the right page.
Manuscript signatures are present throughout the volume, indicating approval of the proposed textual changes by relevant authors and staff. A final sheet near the end of the volume features signatures of Senate President Joseph D. Sayers, Speaker of the House John H. Cochran, Secretary of State John D. Templeton, and Governor Oran M. Roberts, among others.
Signatures shown: Wm. A. Fields, 1st Asst., Secretary of Senate; Will Lambert, Chief Clerk, House of Representatives; O.M. Roberts, Governor.
Treatment for this volume focused primarily on reattaching the back board, or cover. Additionally, two manuscript leaves were found to be attached with brads instead of tipped in with glue. Typical preservation strategy would be to remove these brads. However, inspection revealed that the brads are not rusting or tearing the paper. Given current archival storage conditions and the item’s non-circulating status, the brads were left in place as part of this volume’s one-of-a-kind structure and as evidence of its authors’ working methods.
This unusual hybrid print/manuscript volume captures legislation as a work in progress. Additionally, it has now become an autograph album of 19th century Texas politics.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged 19th century, book, Governor Oran M. Roberts, Texas | Leave a Comment »
In preparation for our exhibit, “Texas Moves Toward Statehood: Stories Behind the Mural,” TSLAC Conservation conducted treatment on a small notebook belonging to German immigrant and Fredericksburg founder John O. Meusebach. This notebook is displayed along with several other Meusebach artifacts, including his famous 1847 Comanche peace treaty.
Meusebach notebook before treatment
Meusebach’s notebook, just 5 ½ x 3 ¾ x ½ inches, features leather-trimmed, shaped wooden boards with a gold-tooled leather spine piece. Boards are hand-illustrated with German verse and drawings relevant to Texas. Gold-tooled leather loops at the boards’ front edge hold a small pencil; when the pencil is inserted, the volume is fastened shut. Inside, the boards are lined with cream-colored silk. Silk pockets inside each board are further lined with bright, turquoise-colored paper. The notebook itself is separate from the boards, sewn into a flexible cover of cream-colored silk, turquoise paper, and gold foil decorative strips.
Meusebach notebook components: case (boards), notebook, and stylus (pencil.)
The outer case had been previously repaired with pressure-sensitive tape along the inside and outside of its spine, with tape adhered to both leather and silk. During treatment, tape and adhesive were mechanically removed from the leather, revealing losses in the spine and the full detachment of the front board. Tape removal from the degraded silk was more problematic, especially because much of the silk was baggy and loose across the spine region. Working with a heated spatula allowed partial success. Toned Japanese tissue was then adhered to support and fill the remaining silk.
The next step was to reattach the front board and fill the revealed spine losses with toned tissue. This step required some testing and adjustment of tissue placement and adhesives, since the small, ornately decorated notebook allowed very small adhesive surfaces.
Notebook after treatment
You can see the resulting notebook on display in “Texas Moves Toward Statehood: Stories Behind the Mural.” The Texas State Library and Archives is now open on the second Saturday of every month from 9 AM to 4 PM.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged 19th century, archives, artifact, book, exhibit, Meusebach, Texas | Leave a Comment »
A book’s spine is often held together by some combination of sewing, glue, and linings of textile, leather, or paper. Usually, paper linings are made of solid-colored, text-weight paper. Occasionally, a surprising paper lining can shed light on the fast-paced, sometimes improvised nature of bindery work.
The Index to the Executive Documents of the Senate, 1859-60 presented a surprise when it came to the conservation lab. Opening the spine region for treatment revealed a bucolic scene:
Printed image caption text: “Short horned Cow Fidelle, and Calf, bred by Thomas Robinson, Esq., of Burton on Trent, 1848. W.H Davis Pinxt. T. Sinclair Philada.”
The paper lining seen here supports both the book’s spine and the back of its spine covering in a common structure known as a hollow tube. Though binderies typically stocked raw materials for their work, recycling was not unfamiliar, especially when circumstances, resources, or economy dictated its application. This lining, then, is likely a piece of binder’s scrap – unremarkable in its day, but more notable to discover 150 years later. The lithographic image looks similar to those from 19th century popular illustrated magazines, such as Harper’s Weekly.
This charming image must be covered once again in the course of conservation treatment for this book. However, our lab database allows a photograph of the paper lining to be attached to the book’s treatment documentation. In this way, the conservation process can return the book to working condition and document its hidden surprise along the way.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged 19th century, book | Leave a Comment »
In keeping with the State of Texas’ plan to have state government agencies adopt the texas.gov domain name, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) now has a new website address. Please update your Internet bookmarks to: www.tsl.texas.gov.
This URL is the root of a vast array of agency content on the web, from general information about TSLAC (e.g., About Us) to targeted information for the public (Explore Our Resources), for libraries and educators (Continuing Education and Consulting), for state and local governments (Records Management Services), and more.
Advancing our mission to safeguard significant resources, provide information services that inspire and support research, education and reading, and enhance the capacity for achievement of current and future generations, we invite the public to connect with us online at our new website address. Our online resources are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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In addition to displaying Texas Governor John Connally’s suit, TSLAC’s exhibit “Texas Investigates: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy and Wounding of Governor John B. Connally” highlights archival records of the Kennedy assassination, which took place 50 years ago this November. Among these holdings is a teleprint from United Press International (UPI), the first news wire service that reported the assassination story as it developed on November 22, 1963.
In a time before personal computers and the internet, UPI transmitted news bulletins across wires to Teletype machines, which continuously printed updates on a paper scroll. Publishers and broadcasters could then communicate the news to their audiences. On November 22, 1963, UPI teleprinters rattled frantically, and the events of the day unfurled on long sheets of canary yellow paper in newsrooms across the country. Numerous misspellings and factual corrections emphasize the haste and intensity of the moment. Walter Cronkite’s famous on-air announcement of Kennedy’s death was based on a UPI teleprint just like the one in TSLAC’s exhibit.
UPI teleprint from November 22, 1963.
TSLAC’s teleprint is over seven feet long and folded into eight panels for flat storage. The document is fully digitized in our online exhibit (1, 2, 3, 4), but the physical teleprint itself also tells a powerful story. Accordingly, TSLAC conservator Sarah Norris designed and built a custom exhibit cradle to display the physical object and safely maximize its visual impact.
UPI teleprint on zig-zag exhibit cradle.
To support this unique item, the exhibit cradle has a zig-zag shape that conforms to the teleprint’s exact measurements and contours. The cradle is built from archival, acid-free corrugated board, whose lightweight strength allows an overall cradle height of 31 inches. A five-inch-tall model illustrated construction details, including ideal angle measurements for internal supports. Light monitoring is periodically conducted to ensure that the paper’s yellow dye is not adversely affected by exhibit conditions.
As exhibited, the teleprint encourages visitors to consider past communication technologies and to appreciate the impact of physical archival objects. Visitors can imagine themselves standing before the Teletype machine in a busy newsroom as events unfolded on November 22, 1963. Along with Governor Connally’s suit, the teleprint helps convey the immediacy and urgency of the day.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged 20th century, archives, Connally, exhibit, history, Kennedy, Texas | Leave a Comment »