Paper and Photographs

Two recent projects

by Michele Hamill

The Conservation Unit treats a wide variety of paper and photographic materials from the Library collections.  A recent photograph conservation treatment in our lab was this hand-colored panorama photograph of the Cornell Campus (early 20th century).  It was recently donated to the Archives collection of the Library but in its present state could not be safely used by the Cornell community or researchers.    It had been taped on all edges to a poor quality secondary support which shows significant water and mold damage. The upper left corner has a severe crack and remnants of adhesive from a previous window mat extend over some of the edges of the photograph.


The back of the photograph shows more reinforcement with acrylic pressure sensitive tape and the mold and water damage. 


The photograph was mechanically removed from the secondary support.  Paper and adhesive residue was reduced using methyl cellulose poultices and local use of water.  Methyl cellulose poultices were used to reduce adhesive residue on the edges of the photographs as well.  The crack in the upper left corner was mended on the verso with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.  The photograph was humidified  and flattened.  After treatment, the photograph was housed in a custom polyester sleeve with a top flap (Atlantic Protective Pouches).



A recent paper conservation treatment was this 1883 manuscript speech by Senator Justin S. Morrill (responsible for the Morrill Land-Grant Act that extended the possibility of attaining a “liberal and practical” education to the masses). The speech had been heavily taped inside a portfolio with grey cloth tape, glassine tape, and acrylic pressure sensitive tape.  Opening the portfolio to consult the pages was extremely difficult due to the tightness of the tapes.  Each page also had surface dirt and punctures.


In the center a straight pin was added in an attempt to further secure the speech inside the portfolio.



The pages were surface cleaned recto and verso with grated white vinyl erasers.  The pressure sensitive tape was removed mechanically and the other tapes were removed with the local use of moisture.  Punctures were mended with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste.  Conservation treatment has stabilized this document, preserving it into the future and allowing safe access.


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