Adonijah Welch was the first president of Iowa State University (back when the school was still the Iowa State Agricultural College) from 1869-1883.  We are conserving a few dozen of his handwritten speeches in order to prepare them for digitization.  Once they are digitized, they will be available through our Iowa State University Library Digital Collections website.  The originals will continue to be housed in University Archives, on the fourth floor of Parks Library.

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Adonijah Welch’s beautiful and dramatic handwriting makes working with these documents particularly enjoyable.  I also really enjoy the various, innovative methods of binding.  We don’t know whether he bound these speeches himself, or whether an assistant did the binding for him.  My favorite (above) is a speech bound in three sections with pink ribbon.  A satin ribbon runs through the center of each section, and then all three ribbons have been gathered and knotted together on the outside of the spine.

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The simple binding above uses cord in the same way metal rings would be used in a binder.  The cord has been looped through holes at the top and bottom margins of the manuscript and then knotted.

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The above speech is also bound in several sections, with each section attached to the other with a rather untidy assemblage of stitching and knots reminiscent of a modern conservation pamphlet stitch.

While it is necessary for us to remove these “bindings” in order to digitize the manuscripts, we have thoroughly photodocumented them first.  Printed images of the original binding will be included in each manuscript folder.

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