MHS Takes Care of History

De-acidification of the newspaper in purified water. Photos by Laura Wulf for the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Photos by Laura Wulf for the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Because our state of Massachusetts has played such a huge role in American history and culture, it is home to a multitude of documents, artifacts and objects of historical significance. Some of them are preserved at the esteemed Massachusetts Historical Society.  Here you can see the fourth volume of a set of Revolutionary-era Boston newspapers collected, annotated, and indexed by Harbottle Dorr, Jr., a Boston shopkeeper, from 1765 to 1776. After the pages were dry-cleaned and the ink tested for solubility, the MHS conservator washed and de-acidified the pages in purified water.

Restored artifact. Photos by Laura Wulf for the Massachusetts Historical Society.

After a gentle wash, pages were dried, and then, the conservator used Japanese tissue paper and wheat starch paste to repair them. You can see a close-up of the restored bottom of the page in the photograph on the left. This project took place in the conservation lab of the Massachusetts Historical Society. You can also read more about MHS conservator and her work on the project in this post on the society’s official blog, The Beehive.

Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 March - 5 April 1776
Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams

The Massachusetts Historical Society is an independent research library and manuscript repository founded in 1791. Its holdings encompass millions of rare and unique documents and artifacts vital to the study of American history, many of them irreplaceable national treasures. Among them is correspondence between John Adams, who’s birthday will be celebrated tomorrow, and his wife Abigail. You can even view some of their letters right on your computer, in amazing high resolution, including her famous “Remember the ladies.

Conservation Photo Feature – Vega Papers Processing at Wistariahurst Museum

Vega Papers Processing (Wistaria Hurst)
Project archivist Emily Toder holding one of the newly labeled boxes on the last day of processing (photo courtesy of Wistariahurst Museum, Holyoke, MA)

Last winter, Wistariahurst Museum of Holyoke, Mass, was awarded a Mass Humanities grant to process the papers of Holyoke activist and community organizer Carlos A. Vega.  As the collection arrived in plastic bins, binders, and all sorts of acid-full paper cartons and boxes, one of the first stages of the project was to identify and acquire the archival supplies needed to suit the large task of rehousing and properly accommodating the various sizes and formats of the collection’s different materials.  Its administrative records, clippings, photographs, posters, plaques, memorabilia, a diverse assortment of buttons, and one pez dispenser turned out to span 43 boxes (24.5 linear feet) of University Products’ 60 pt. buffered acid-free document containers, corrugated bulk storage cartons, and photos boxes. The collection demonstrating Vega’s tireless commitment to social justice, and documenting myriad facets of the Latino experience this culturally unique area of Western Massachusetts, is now open for research at the Museum’s Carriage House Archives.

Wistariahurst Museum is dedicated to preserving Holyoke’s history and inspiring an appreciation of history and culture through educational programs, exhibits and special events.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Wistariahurst is the former home of William Skinner, a prominent silk manufacturer.

 

Conservation Photo Feature – Recent conservation project at the San Diego Museum of Man

sandiegomuseum2
Removing mold from a human mummy at the San Diego Museum of Man

Unfortunately, the chiller in our HVAC system broke down, resulting in humidity increases in some of our exhibit galleries. As a result, mold began to appear on one of our naturally preserved human mummies. We removed the mummy from the gallery, and kept it sealed in an airtight storage cabinet with dessicant in order to dry out the mold. We then vacuumed the mold off of the mummy. Our chiller has since been replaced, and the mummy is back on display in the gallery, and it is doing fine!

Photo and story courtesy of San Diego Museum of Man (SDMoM), the only anthropology and archaeology museum in San Diego County. SDMoM is located in Balboa Park in the historic 1915 California Building with its iconic California Tower. SDMoM has outstanding cultural (ethnographic) collections and renowned physical anthropology collections. It features five permanent exhibitions, including Ancient Egypt; Kumeyaay: Native Californians; Footsteps Through Time: Four Million Years of Human Evolution; Maya: Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth; and Discover Egypt. SDMoM also offers changing special exhibits featuring artifacts from it’s own collections and from around the world.

SHARE YOUR CONSERVATION PHOTOS! CLICK BELOW FOR MORE INFO:
Conservation Photo Request