ISU Scrapbook Preservation Project


The first agricultural engineering department in the world was started at Iowa State in 1905.  It’s now called the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.  Jay Brownlee Davidson was a professor at Iowa State and is considered to be the “Father of Agricultural Engineering.”  Our archives has a lot of material from J.B. Davidson and we’ve digitized some of it to be available online in our Digital Collections:  http://www.add.lib.iastate.edu/preserv/cdm/agengineering.html

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Digital photographs were taken of entire scrapbooks that J.B. Davidson created from his trips to China and Europe.  In addition to the many photographs included in the scrapbooks, we also scanned many photographs from the early days of agricultural engineering at Iowa State.  We also have a link to our Digital Repository which has J.B. Davidson’s “Introducing Agricultural Engineering in China” from 1949.  With the variety of materials included in our Digital Collections we’ve tried to give people a look at some of the more visually interesting items in our collections and the Digital Repository includes the more scholarly works. This start could lead a curious researcher to find much more by visiting our archives.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the U.S., and among the things I am grateful for is the fact that my work at ISU Library is so varied. Each day during the scrapbook survey I discovered something I thought was worth sharing with someone in my life. I’m not sure how thankful everyone was with my sharing, but this one was an absolute winner in the lab.

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I hope that has put a smile on your face. As always, we are grateful that you take time to read the blog.  Happy Thanksgiving from all of us to all of you!

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.

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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.

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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!

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Friends who read the blog have been asking what I’ve been doing lately since I haven’t posted for awhile. The answer is that I’ve been over in Special Collections creating an inventory of the scrapbooks in the collection. My life has looked like this lately.

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And this.

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That’s not to say that the scrapbooks are boring. There is some pretty cool stuff in those boxes that you will be hearing about in the coming months, but I will admit that I’ve been missing my workbench lately.

No worries, though, because Melissa has my back (I think). She asked me to work on this the other day.

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I was a bit surprised that she brought me a book to work on until I opened it and found tears,

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tape,

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and large pieces of folded paper.

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Am I the only one surprised to discover she brought me a book of bound blueprints? It seems I am now the lab’s blueprint expert.

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The book contained three beautiful drawings for the original library building. I’ve taken them out of the binding to repair and flatten them. Our friends over at Facilities, Planning and Management have kindly agreed to scan them for us on their blueprint scanner, and we’ll hopefully have them up on the Special Collections web page in about a month.

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.