Up from the Deep: Treating Records Salvaged from a World War II Shipwreck
Records recovered from the USS Peary, a World War II ship sunk Feb. 19, 1942. Can they be separated or not?
Our love will be preserved in acid-free containers until the end of time.
Tape is Evil …
Archivists and conservators both know all too well. Numerous methods of tape manufacture and composition lead to an infinite ways to degrade items, yet the worst is that classic, yellow, creeping, oozing, oily, incredibly sticky mess.
Full treatment can be lengthy and difficult. So what can NARA do when a record needs to be accessed right away, but there are a number of pages firmly stuck together? Cellulose powder to the rescue! Once the pages are carefully separated and the tape carriers are removed, cellulose powder (AKA Ashless powder) can be used to remove the adhesive. The loose fibers that make up cellulose powder are soft and stick to the adhesive once in contact with it. With careful handling, the powder picks up the adhesive, allowing removal of the adhesive layer from the page. Although this treatment does not reverse the damage to the page from the degraded tape, the pages are free and usable!
Be sure to visit the recently created Iraqi Jewish Archive website: WWW.IJA.ARCHIVES.GOV
You can learn about the discovery of water damaged books and documents found in Baghdad in 2003 and how an international effort paved the way for their preservation. Preservation Programs is honored to have a role in preserving these unique materials that chronicle the once-thriving Jewish community in Iraq. You can also search the collection online, view the exhibit now on display at The National Archives in DC through January 5, and much, much more. #Preservation #NARA
Sefer Sipur Nes Hanukkah (The Book of the Story of the Miracle of Hanukkah) Baghdad, 1926
"This book contains the prayers for Hanukkah and the story of the miracle in Judeo-Arabic.
The eight-day holiday of Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the second century BCE. Festive Hanukkah celebrations in Iraq were marked by the eating of a local delicacy—fried sweet fritters known as zengoula. Local foods shaped the cuisine and traditions of Iraqi Jews”
This book was among the cache of water-soaked documents relating to the Jewish community of Iraq discovered in the basement of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters in Baghdad in 2003. The National Archives was asked to provide advice on how to rescue this important group of materials, and over the past years intensive efforts have been involved in the preservation of these important books and documents. Many of these items including this book, are currently on exhibit in “Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage” at the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC, through January 2014.
We asked Senior Paper Conservator, Kathy Ludwig, about the most interesting project she’s worked on. The most intrinsically valuable document she has treated at the National Archives is the Monroe Doctrine. The document is the Senate version the 36-page text of President James Monroe’s seventh annual Message to Congress on December 2, 1823. The Monroe Doctrine, hand-written by an administrative assistant and signed by the President, was a defining moment in American foreign policy. We’ll explore its conservation treatment in the next few posts.
In June of 2003, the National Archives Preservation Programs received a call for help from Iraq.
American soldiers had found tens of thousands of documents and 2,700 Jewish books while searching in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters. The historic material was soaking wet.
And so Doris Hamburg and Mary-Lynn Ritzenthaler boarded a C-130 cargo plane and flew to Iraq.
Over the next several years, the documents would be cleaned, rehoused in custom-built boxes, stabilized, cataloged, and digitized. Experts in Jewish history, Iraqi and Jewish history, the Iraqi Jewish community, and Jewish rare books lent their skills and knowledge.
On November 7, 2013, the exhibit “Discovery and Recovery: The Iraqi Jewish Archive” opened to the public at the National Archives, and it will be on display until January 5, 2014. You can also see the documents online in a new website.
Read the full story on the Prologue blog: http://go.usa.gov/W82m
Rare Printing: United States Constitution
This month, rare printing of the United States Constitution underwent conservation treatment in the lab at Archives I. The record, consisting of two sheets of paper, was printed by New York printer John McLean on September 29, 1787 and shortly thereafter was attached to the RG 360 Resolve Book of the Continental Congress. At some point, the record was removed from the volume and joined as a folio with adhesives that, over time, stained the left edge of each sheet.
Conservation treatment focused on removing these adhesives to the extent possible with solvents on a vacuum suction table. The solvents were applied to the affected areas in order to solubilize the old adhesives which were then pulled through the paper into a blotter below. Once the adhesives were removed, the sheets were washed in purified water, sized with gelatin, and then dried and flattened. After digital imaging, the record will be returned to the Resolve Book.
Moving Forward by Looking Back - Advances in Preservation and Safety since the 1973 Fire
INTRODUCTION - KEEP TUNED FOR THE 5 PART SERIES NEXT WEEK!
Friday, July 12 2013, marked the 40th anniversary of the fire at the National Personnel Records Center. Much has been written about this disaster – the sheer numbers of records lost, how many fire units responded to the fire, how long the fire burned, and to this day, the continued recovery of veteran’s records through the efforts of many devoted employees.
As devastating and memorable as the fire was, much has been learned from that seminal event. Testing of basic safety features for buildings was done, and from those results, national standards were developed. Shelving for and housing of records was examined and improved upon. NARA-wide directives were written to ensure all archival facilities and records centers within NARA were operating under the same rules and regulations. Preservation and conservation of paper records – still a relatively new field in 1973 – expanded on treatments of paper records, and new approaches to treatment and reformatting are being developed every day.
It’s human nature to revisit turning points in our lives – in this case, the 1973 fire. It’s also human nature to continue to survive, to move forward and to learn from history. The new building at 1 Archives Drive is a prime example of lessons learned from past mistakes, manifested in a physical form of forward progress.
Battle of Gettysburg - July 2013 - 150th Anniversary
This manuscript map shows positions held during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. Because of its small size, the map would have fit easily into a pocket for quick reference (Map A-7-19 RG 200 Paine Collection Maps). It was previously laminated to cream colored folder stock with cellulose acetate. All media underwent solubility tests, after which the map was delaminated and tears mended. It was lined with Japanese paper and wheat starch paper, and encapsulated in polyester film.
The map comes from the Paine Collection of Civil War Maps. The maps, ca. 300 in all, were given to the National Archives by Colonel W. H. Paine’s daughter at an unknown date. Col. Paine served under all the Generals of the Army of the Potomac, but mostly under General Meade. He was an engineer in the Army, and his maps were noted for their accuracy. Many were constructed from observations taken in captive balloons or while under enemy fire. Most if not all of the maps in the collection are by Col. Paine.
An enduring legacy of the New Deal, FDR established the Civilian Conservation Corps with an executive order signed April 5, 1933.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the program put thousands of unemployed young men to work, planting trees, building roads, improving State and National Parks, even combating forest fires and other natural disasters.
Never a permanent agency, the scale of the CCC was reduced as the economy improved, and it was disbanded in 1942 as the country geared up for World War II.
Garrison Style Caps
These four garrison style caps were donated to the National Archives by the American National Red Cross (ANRC). The documentation indicates that they are vintage WWI hats worn by Red Cross staff. They are all similar in that they are wool and have ear flaps, but only one has a ribbon around the crown and an embroidered red cross.
One of the garrison hats has a leather sweatband and a label from John Baillie & Co. Paris, 1 Rue Auber. Many Red Cross staff waited until they got to Paris to have their uniforms custom made by Parisian designers. Research on shops and designers of the period is often very difficult. Can you suggest any good sites or books for early twentieth-century costume history?
ARC ID: 6293339
High Praise for Preservation EXPosed!
American Historical Association blogger Jennifer Reut writes that the National Archives Preservation EXPOsed! event on March 14th “merited the high-volume crowds that PBS’s better-known Antiques Roadshow attracts.” We proudly share her blog from AHA Today: http://blog.historians.org/news/1997/preservation-exposed-deserves-more-exposure