Scrapbooks


The main focus of my three months here at ISU is a collection of family documents titled the Van Zandt Family Papers. The collection contains documents from 1838-1990. The Van Zandt family started out in North Carolina, with some members of the family moving to Iowa in the mid-1800s. There are a couple significant portions of the collection: correspondence during the Civil War, during which time members of the family were located in both the North and the South, and correspondence during World War I. The collection contains a variety of objects, including letters, postcards, photographs, and legal documents. The photographs are my main focus. More information about the collection can be found here.

Surface cleaning photographs in an album.

Surface cleaning photographs in an album.

My treatment of this collection is ongoing, but so far, the work I have carried out includes: surface cleaning using a soft brush to remove debris, mending tears and infilling losses on both the photographs themselves and on their backing boards, and removing accretions with a poultice made of methyl cellulose. Some of the work to still be done includes: building up areas of loss on backing boards, repairing bindings on Daguerreotypes, and treating photographic albums.

Using a methyl cellulose poultice to remove an accretion on the recto of a photograph.

Using a methyl cellulose poultice to remove an accretion on the recto of a photograph.

One issue the treatment of this collection has brought up is time management. As the internship only lasts three months, and I have other projects to complete in addition to the Van Zandt Family Papers, I knew I needed a treatment plan which would allow for various stages of completion depending on the amount of time I had available. What I came up with was a way to break down each type of treatment into levels of importance. Once the first level of importance is reached, I can go back and do the next level if time allows. This way, each photograph receives at least enough treatment to ensure its stability.

Before and after tape removal on the top, and an image of my tape removal set up in the fume cupboard.

Before and after tape/adhesive removal on the top, and an image of my tape/adhesive removal set up in the fume cupboard.

My treatment plan looks like this:

Surface cleaning:

  1. Surface clean all photographs, using only a brush (no aqueous treatment) unless otherwise needed.

Mending:

  1. Repair any tears and infill all losses on every photograph, including the backing board. This will give necessary support to areas which need it.

Tape Removal:

  1. Remove any sticky adhesive, leaving carriers as they are. This will prevent the photograph from sticking to its enclosure, potentially causing further damage.
  2. Remove all carriers, and any residue beneath the carriers.

Photo Albums:

  1. Surface clean all photographs in the album, re-adhere any photographs which have failed adhesive, and interleave the pages with photograph-safe paper.
  2. Consider removal of the photograph from the album, especially in albums which have heavily degraded the photographs. One possible solution would be to place each photograph in a Mylar enclosure, and adhere the enclosure to the spot the photograph originally was adhered.
Working on an infill for a missing corner.

Working on an infill for a missing corner.

In addition to learning more about the conservation of photographs, I am learning what it is like to juggle numerous projects with a time restriction. Taking the time to create a treatment plan like the one I have outlined has helped me organize my workflow, and has allowed me to complete the most imperative tasks first. I then have a plan in mind in the event that I have additional time to finish other treatments as well. This is a skillset, in addition to improving my bench skills, which I can carry with me throughout my career as a paper and photographs conservator.

Advertisements

My work with the scrapbooks at Special Collections started with a condition survey of the collection. The goal of the condition survey was to evaluate a representative sample of scrapbooks to get a general idea of the condition of the overall collection. I started the process by creating an inventory of all the scrapbooks. First I searched the available databases for scrapbooks. Then I looked through the boxes of collections that have not been indexed. I ended up with an inventory of over a thousand scrapbooks from which I randomly chose over one hundred to include in the survey.

I saw a lot of different kinds of scrapbooks during this process and felt like I had a pretty good idea of all the different types of scrapbooks in the collection. I was happily surprised the other day when I opened a box of theater scrapbooks and discovered a couple of examples of the Campus Pic and Clips scrapbook.

IMG_0162

The covers have photos from the Iowa State campus on them.

IMG_0157

According to the inner insert, the price of the scrapbook included a custom-printed spine label which you could send for.

IMG_0159

Sadly it does not look like the theater students ever placed the order.

IMG_0161

 

An internet search for the Hob-B-Bookcraft Campus Pics and Clips turns up very little information and no photos. I guess that this was not their most successful product line. I’m going to assume that the college bookstore or a local stationer stocked these back in the sixties and an enterprising theater student bought a couple.

Has anyone seen one of these scrapbooks specific to their university or college? Can you share a photo?

 

Tomorrow is the last official day of National Preservation Week! If you missed the preservation webinars hosted by ALA-ALCTS this week, no need to fret: you can view the archived webinars on the ALA-ALCTS YouTube Channel, along with many other  webinars from past years.  This is a wonderful, free preservation resource available to anyone with an internet connection.  Preservation Week may be drawing to a close, but the ISU Library Preservation Department’s outreach mission continues year-round.  Contact us if you are in need of a preservation consultation.

preservationweeklogo2014

Preservation Week 2014: Free Webinars

Low-Cost Ways to Preserve Family Archives by Karen E. Brown

Preserving Historic Scrapbooks and Making New Ones That Last by Melissa Tedone

Special Collections has asked us to work on the scrapbooks from the ISU Theatre Department. The scrapbooks suffer from all the common ills of scrapbooks.

The support pages in many of the volumes have become so brittle that they have started to break away from the bindings. In most cases I have been able to disbind the volume so that future viewers will not be horrified that they ripped a page from the scrapbook just by turning it gently.

SplitOne

There is massive adhesive failure. When possible I have re-attached things back where they belong, but some things are a mystery so they get encapsulated and left between the pages where I found them.

Adhesive

The adhesive failure is so serious that I know that more things will fall off the next time the books are opened. As a partial solution, I’m making a four-flap for each book to keep everything as contained as possible and to minimize abrasion since multiple scrapbooks are often stored together in a box.

Fourflap

I could spend weeks on each scrapbook, but there are many of them and just one of me. And quite frankly given the condition of the supporting pages and many of the contents, it is not worth the time or effort to do a full treatment on these. In the near future, they will need to be  taken apart and put in folders.

Here is the perplexing thing. I’ve come across several pages with what we are calling “googly eyes.” The markings are in blue editor’s pencil.

GooglyEyesGooglyEyes2

I’m pretty sure that the clippings came from a clipping service. Can anyone confirm that? And does anyone know what is it with the circles? They don’t appear to be around anything specific.

 

 

 

 

 

I have come across some pretty interesting things looking through the scrapbooks in Special Collections. One of the more colorful items was an album of evaporated milk can labels compiled by an alum named Adrian Zachariah Hodson.

gotmilk6

It was difficult to pick which labels to share because either the artwork or the names were so interesting. Here are just a few that caught my eye the day I was doing the condition assessment.

gotmilk1gotmilk2

gotmilk5

gotmilk4

I will admit that I might have initially thought that Adrian Zachariah had a bit too much time on his hands, but further investigation showed that he collected the labels from 1942 to 1984 to track changes in the industry over the years. An internet search showed that Doctor Hodson held two patents for instantly soluble milk powder and its manufacturing process, as well as having published two milk-related books with Cornell University during the late 1930s. I continue to be impressed by the things that the alumni of Iowa State University do after they leave campus.

So, take that, baby!

gotmilk3

I’m writing this post at the end of the first week of classes. It is always a bit of a shock to the system when the students return in the fall. We go from a quiet summer school campus to being surrounded by students wherever we turn. It is even more surprising this year, as Iowa State is experiencing a record enrollment of over 32,000 students.

It has been particularly noticeable at my house the last couple of weeks, because my spouse has been busy welcoming the new international students to campus. As someone who is a bit more aware of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on throughout the year to prepare for the fall, I had to smile when the scrapbook from the 1928 Freshman Days landed on my bench at the beginning of the week.

cover

The scrapbook contains a record of all the letters, schedules and booklets used to welcome the freshmen to Iowa State College in 1928, a year when the total student population was 3,982.

Students received several small pamphlets when they arrived that covered university rules and procedures, academic policies and a schedule of Freshman Days. I thought this one with the Campanile on it was particularly lovely.

IMG_4514

I’m sure the people on campus who organize what is now called Destination Iowa State would love to require excused absences from activities, though perhaps they would find the paperwork a bit overwhelming.

IMG_4515

I laughed out loud when I discovered the original used to print the schedule of events.

IMG_4516

It might be hard to see in the photo what it is, but the tab on the page makes it clear.

IMG_4517

It seems that no matter the project, blueprints will always find me.

Recently, I attended the Care of Historic Scrapbooks workshop taught by Jennifer Hain Teper at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies in Mt. Carroll, IL.

Jennifer Hain Teper lectures on the preservation challenges particular to scrapbooks as composite objects made up of many different types of materials.

The Head of Conservation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (which, full disclosure, is where I performed the third-year conservation internship required by my conservation study program), Jennifer generously shared her experiences working with UIUC’s extensive scrapbook collection.  The workshop at the Campbell Center lasted two full days, with lectures and discussion in the mornings, and hands-on training in the afternoons.

Hence the name: an example of a true “scrapbook,” made up of scraps of fabric and paper clippings adhered to the pages of a wallpaper sample book.

In addition to an overview of the common materials and preservation challenges of scrapbooks as artifacts, Jennifer presented us with a case study of a scrapbook assessment and treatment project performed at UIUC.  Jennifer shared her projected and actual budgets both for the condition survey and the treatment project, as well as a thoughtful analysis of the inevitable discrepancies.  Her honest assessment of the project pointed out potential pitfalls and areas of concern when designing a scrapbook conservation project.  Having the opportunity to learn from her experience puts me in a far better position to begin planning our own scrapbook project at ISU Library, since I now have very concrete data on which to base my own estimates.

An example of a scrapbook rehousing designed by the UIUC Libraries Conservation Lab.

Our lively, engaged group of workshop participants included three librarians from Western Kentucky University Library Special Collections, a curator from the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, a student from the Museum Studies Program at Western Illinois University, an archivist from UIPUI University Library, and an archivist from the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission.

Sue Lynn McDaniel, Special Collections Librarian at Western Kentucky University, practices consolidating red rotted leather with Cellugel.

Jennifer demonstrates the intricacies of properly wrapping a book for storage or transport.

Among our group, I was the only conservator taking the class.  However, while I am already well-versed in the actual treatment techniques we practiced (encapsulating, making wrappers, paper mending, hinging, backing removal), the class still proved to be a valuable experience for me.  Learning some tried-and-true approaches from someone who has been thinking about the complexities of scrapbooks for much longer than I have saves me from having to reinvent the wheel when I approach our own scrapbook collection.  It was also just a joy to have two uninterrupted days to think about scrapbook preservation problems non-stop, and to bounce ideas off of others struggling with similar issues.

Jennifer’s solution to isolating an attachment which still needs to be handled: a Melinex encapsulation with a window cut into it, so the card can still be opened and read.

I’m very happy to announce that we have just started our own scrapbook project at ISU Library.  The overall goals of the project are to:

  • Identify and inventory scrapbooks in the Manuscript and Archives collections
  • Assess the condition of the scrapbooks
  • Prioritize scrapbooks for digitization, rehousing, stabilization, and full treatment
  • Treat scrapbooks according to the determined priorities

Images of some of the scrapbook challenges which await us in ISU Library Special Collections and Archives.

Our conservation volunteer, Martha, will be working with me on this project, so look for updates from either one of us in the months ahead.  In the meantime, if your own scrapbook collection needs some TLC, I can recommend Jennifer Hain Teper’s Care of Historic Scrapbooks workshop at the Campbell Center without reservation.  Whether you work within the conservation field or practice an allied profession, you will end the course better equipped to tackle the challenges of these complex artifacts.