Friday, 1 November 2013

Conservation and Cataloguing

I’ve now completed three weeks of my internship and have finished the first phase of the cataloguing of LHSA’s photographic collection. A list of our items has now been completed and Archivist Laura has advised me which series they fit into. Our collection includes photographs and drawings of notable Scottish physicians, and Laura was also delighted to see a ‘photogravure’ (a printmaking process that replicates the detail and continuous tones of a photograph) of the eminent psychiatrist TS Clouston. Clouston was appointed as Superintendent of the Royal Edinburgh Asylum in 1873 and also served as a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. His publications on mental illness established him as a leader in the field of psychiatry.
Photogravure of Thomas Clouston
I have also spent a lot of time this week working with Sarah, the Conservation Intern. We have been working on an accession from the solicitors Gillespie Macandrew containing title deeds and legal papers, many relating to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Before Sarah can start treating the papers I had to assign numbers to each one so that she can keep track of the order they should be in. This was a useful experience for me and also an opportunity to find out more about the work of a conservator. As we numbered items, Sarah explained how they might be cleaned and what repairs might need to be carried out. It was enjoyable, if quite dirty work, and we had to stop often to wash 200 years’ worth of dirt from our hands! Some of the items we have been handling are beautiful parchments with pendant seals and pictured below is an indenture dated 28 April 1686.

Indenture, 1686

On Thursday we visited the conservation studio at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The conservator, Tizzy, made us very welcome and talked to us about their holdings and the work she does there.

I also had an opportunity on Wednesday to talk to our Research Intern, Kirsten about her work; we looked at some of the archival material she has been examining and decided together on ways in which they could be used as an educational resource. This was really interesting for me as this was the focus of my MSc dissertation, and something I’m hoping to find out more about next week when Project Archivist Louise and I attend the Scottish Council on Archives Enquiry Learning Workshop at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.

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