Treatment of an Iowa State Football Manual (circa 1933)

Iowa State University football manual, ca. 1933

Not long ago, Special Collections received an Iowa State University football manual dating back to the Coach George Veenker years (1931-1936).  The small, black, three-ring binder had been found by Dale Geise, who donated it to the University Library.  The introduction to the manual admonishes players to “Read it entirely, always, the night before a game.”

There is a lot of valuable dope in this book which, if gotten into the hands of our opponents, would ruin us.

— Iowa State College Football Manual (ca. 1933)

The manual’s worn appearance proves how well-used it was.  The pages are curling and tattered where they have pressed against the binder rings over the years, and many of the holes punched in the paper had been reinforced with small, gummed, cloth circles.  There is also evidence of insect damage, where portions of the paper have been eaten away.

Gummed cloth circles reinforce the worn holes of some of the pages.
Insect damage on the upper right corner of the page.

Our conservation goal was to stabilize the manual, making it safe for researchers to handle, while also retaining as much of the original character of the binding as we could.  To this end, we first used a poultice to soften and remove the gummed cloth reinforcement circles and any remaining adhesive residue.

Using a microspatula to lift the gummed cloth circle after softening the adhesive with a methylcellulose poultice.
Adhesive residue left behind after removing the gummed cloth circle.
After removing the adhesive residue left by the gummed cloth circle.

Next, the pages of the manual were humidified, a process which encourages the paper fibers to relax by placing the pages in a chamber with a high relative humidity.  Once the pages had relaxed, they were stacked between sheets of blotter lined with Remay (a smooth, woven polyester).  The blotter stack was pressed under boards and weights to flatten the pages.

On the left, pages in the humidity chamber. On the right, pages being placed in a blotter stack.

Using a drilling jig to mark the correct distance between holes, we drilled single sheets of Mylar (Melinex) to fit the 3-ring binder.

A drill press was used to put holes in Mylar (Melinex) stubs.

Each page of the manual was individually encapsulated in a Mylar (Melinex) sleeve, with 1/4″ overhang on the gutter edge.  The single-sheet Mylar (Melinex) stubs were then welded into the overhang.

On the left, a page from the manual encapsulated in Mylar (Melinex). On the right, a student welds the drilled stub to the encapsulation.

Next, the attached stubs were trimmed and the manual pages were placed back in the original 3-ring binder.  The encapsulated sheets are wider than the originals and extend slightly beyond the fore edge of the binder, so a protective clamshell box (in ISU colors cardinal and gold, of course) was built to house the manual.

Cloth-covered clamshell box to protect football manual
Cloth-covered clamshell box to protect football manual


    1. Thanks, Amy. No, we usually don’t add snaps to our clamshell boxes. It’s something I’ve done at other institutions in the past, so we’re just trying it out here on certain items. This was actually the first item we tried out our new snap-maker on!

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