Friday, 15 July 2011

From conservation to cataloguing, and back again

This week Ruth, our Paper Conservator, carried out preliminary treatment of an accession that came to LHSA last year – some minutes of meetings held at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH) in the 1950s. They had accidently got wet before they were accessioned by us, and were in pretty poor condition. There was lots of damage caused by mould and the papers had stuck together in a solid block!

The box of damaged papers

This meant that the minutes couldn’t be catalogued until they had been separated and cleaned. It took a long time as rusty metal paperclips had to be removed and each sheet separated from the one next to it by sliding a very thin spatula between them and then prising the top sheet free. This had to be done very carefully to make sure that Ruth didn’t cause any more damage to these already fragile papers.

While Ruth was separating the papers she found an excellent illustration of why pink tying tape shouldn’t be used in archives! The water had made the dye run and there was a perfect impression of the tied bow on the paper beneath the pink tape.

The pink tape that had been tied round some of the papers
The effect of the pink dye

Ruth then cleaned the papers and re-housed them, and they will now be added to the catalogue of our extensive holdings that relate to the REH.

The papers after they had been separated, cleaned and re-housed
These papers need more conservation treatment to make them easily usable without risk of causing further deterioration, but this will be carried out once they have been catalogued.

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