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 »
For several months, TSLAC Conservation has been preparing for TSLAC’s upcoming exhibit, “Texas Investigates: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Wounding of Governor John B. Connally.” This exhibit will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, TX. The exhibit’s centerpiece, on display for the first time since 1964, is the suit worn by Texas Governor John Connally in the Kennedy motorcade. Connally was non-fatally wounded by gunfire that day, and his suit bears silent testimony to the tragic event.
Careful support and cushioning are required in the display of historical clothing so that fragile garments are not damaged by their own weight. In July, conservator Sarah Norris began the process of customizing the dress forms on which the Connally suit and shirt will be displayed. Shoulder supports and stomach padding were created to fit the exact measurements of the clothing. Arm and leg supports were also added. Though the shoulder supports are highly structured, the arm supports are very pliable so that the figure can be dressed with minimal stress to the garment. A slick, spun polyester fabric allows the shirt to slip easily over the arm supports and onto the customized dress form.
Dress forms before and during customization. All supports are made with archival materials and sewn by hand to fit the measurements of the shirt and suit.
The French cuffs on Governor Connally’s shirt posed a special challenge. These cuffs must be exhibited folded in the manner they were worn to allow logical display of the bullet holes in that region. Cufflinks were originally used to maintain this fold, but the Governor’s cufflinks were not included when the suit was donated to TSLAC. To solve this problem, Norris constructed two small stays made of linen thread, museum board, and cotton muslin. The stays function like the original cufflinks, but their color and texture blends with the shirt without drawing visual attention to non-original items.
The small size and neutral cotton fabric of the cuff stays allow them to blend sympathetically with the shirt.
“Texas Investigates: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Wounding of Governor John B. Connally” opens October 22. In addition to the Connally suit, the exhibit will spotlight Texas state investigations of the assassination, including those conducted by the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Public Safety. TSLAC Conservation welcomes the opportunity to prepare these meaningful items for public observation and commemoration.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged archives, exhibit, John Connally, John F. Kennedy, preservation, Texas | Leave a Comment »
In August, the seven-member Texas State Library and Archives Commission selected Mark Smith for the position of Director and Librarian, the agency’s chief executive also known as the Texas State Librarian. Though Mr. Smith’s tenure begins November 1, we reached out to him recently with 10 questions that address his background, perspective, priorities, and even his knowledge of Texas history. We look forward to getting to know more about Mr. Smith in the months and years to come.
Read the full interview on our website at https://www.tsl.state.tx.us/news/2013/get-to-know-mark-smith.
Questions about the interview? Contact Cesar Garza, Communications Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-463-5514.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Mark Smith, Texas State Library and Archives Commission | Leave a Comment »
Treatment documentation is a major part of conservation. According to the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation:
“The conservation professional has an obligation to produce and maintain accurate, complete, and permanent records of examination, sampling, scientific investigation, and treatment. When appropriate, the records should be both written and pictorial.”
In 2010 and 2011, TSLAC worked with software developer Terence Bandoian to build a custom database application to streamline the collection and preservation of written and photographic treatment documentation information. This system is among a variety of current documentation database projects within the conservation field. While some of these projects occur at the institutional level, others represent multi-institutional and for-profit work.
At the 41st annual meeting of the American Institute for Conservation in Indianapolis, IN, conservator Sarah Norris moderated a panel discussion on these documentation databases. Speakers at this lively and well-attended session included Sarah from TSLAC; Linda Hohneke from the Folger Shakespeare Library; Jay Hoffman from Gallery Systems, Inc; and Mervin Richard from the National Gallery of Art, representing the Mellon Foundation-funded ConservationSpace project. To learn more about the session and the meeting, please visit AIC’s blog, Conservators Converse.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged AIC, database, documentation | Leave a Comment »
In the lab in May is Pressler’s Map of Texas from 1867. Charles Pressler was a noted draftsman and cartographer who immigrated to Texas from Prussia. He created well-known Texas maps while working with land empresario Jacob de Cordova and with the Texas General Land Office.
Pressler’s Map of Texas is a pocket map, which is the 19th century version of the Rand McNally road map one might have carried in a car’s glove box prior to GPS systems. Pocket maps are generally large, hand-colored documents that fold down into a small, textile-covered case that is stamped with gold foil and other decorative elements.
Pressler’s Map of Texas, an 1867 pocket map.
Because repeated folding can damage fragile paper, conservators often remove pocket maps from their cases and flatten them for future storage and use. While this treatment is usually the most responsible course of action, it detracts somewhat from the item’s artifactual value. After treatment, the map is quite physically different.
In this case, we encountered a unique circumstance: there are actually two copies of this item in our collection. It so happens that the other copy has already been removed from its case and flattened. Since the flattened copy will be the primary access copy, this created an unusual opportunity to preserve a pocket map in its original format.
First, creases and wrinkles received local humidification and flattening to help the item fold more efficiently. Then, existing tears at fold lines were mended with wide strips of Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.
Mending tears at fold lines.
The map was carefully folded back into its case and the front board (detached) was reattached with toned moriki tissue. Because there is another access copy, this pocket map has been returned to its original format.
- Repaired case with map folded inside.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged 19th century, archives, artifact, map, Texas | Leave a Comment »
A unique item came to the lab for treatment in April: The Journal of the First Session of the Senate of the United States of America, 1789. Though federal documents are not uncommon in our collection, this book stands out for its age and historical significance. The Senate’s first item of business is of special note:
“Whereby it appears, that GEORGE WASHINGTON, ESQ. Was unanimously elected PRESIDENT, – And JOHN ADAMS, ESQ. Was duly elected VICE PRESIDENT, OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”
This book had a common condition problem. Its hinges were broken where they had been repeatedly flexed with use. Rather than apply repair tissue over the top of the hinge, as is a common, quick working method, a more delicate approach was chosen. The leather that covered the spine and boards was carefully lifted and repair tissue was adhered underneath. This created a mend that was less visually intrusive. A drop-spine box was also created. This type of box is typical of special collections materials and helps signify the item’s stature to users.
Since much of TSLAC’s conservation work focuses on 19th century Texas materials, this early American item was a surprise and a treat.
The Senate Journal of 1789 and its drop-spine box, after treatment.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged book, conservation, history, housing, United States | Leave a Comment »
The Daily Texan, the University of Texas’ 113-year-old student newspaper, recently had a close brush with death of sorts. On March 1, faced with declining advertising revenues, the paper’s managing board, Texas Student Media, voted on whether to reduce the paper’s print schedule. Summer publication has already been reduced to once weekly. The proposal had produced substantial outcry from students, alumni, and community members, who felt the print publication should not be cut. The eventual decision was to leave the print schedule as-is – for now – and instead to cut staff salaries, dip into financial reserves, and enhance the publication’s online presence. Printing and distribution has already been outsourced to the nearby Austin American-Statesman.
Clearly the Daily Texan’s print woes are not fully resolved. For a conservator, and for those invested in the physical manifestations of print culture, an especially interesting quote appeared in the Texan’s editorial “Keep the Daily Texan Daily” on February 19, 2013:
Other college newspapers that have cut their circulation, such as the Red and Black at the University of Georgia, have not found themselves liberated by shedding their daily print product and transforming into a weekly newspaper. According to the Red and Black Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Fouriezos, print pick-up rates have declined dramatically and web traffic has suffered, too. ‘Take the paper out of their minds every day, and it’s no longer a part of their daily habit,’ he said, adding, ‘People can ignore an online product just as much as they can ignore a print product. Online readership is not a given.’
–The Daily Texan, 2/19/13
Just how much is paper part of the newspaper’s identity? How do the physical and digital versions of media drive interest in one another? How can libraries and archives best preserve the record of this turbulent transition? We welcome your comments.
Meanwhile, for those of you wondering about the recent Travis Letter exhibit, we’ll have information and commentary as we process environmental data collected at the exhibit site. Stay tuned in coming days and weeks.
Posted in Conservation | Tagged newspaper, paper, preservation | Leave a Comment »