In 2011, the Free Library of Philadelphia received a grant from the prestigious Save America's Treasures program to preserve and digitize a selection of the Rare Book Department's collection of Pennsylvania German manuscripts. These critical primary source materials document 18th- and 19th-century religious, business, trade, textile, and educational practices—traditions that helped shape our national identity.
The manuscripts are currently here at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) for conservation treatment. Some have deteriorated covers and flaking leather bindings, and all need surface cleaning. The iron-gall ink used in many of the manuscripts has corroded, resulting in damage and loss to the ink and paper—as in the case of the weaving pattern book pictured above. Senior Paper Conservator Soyeon Choi and National Endowment for the Arts Fellow Mary Broadway are lining leaves from the book and filling corrosion-related losses in the patterns with toned long-fiber paper. Next, they will inpaint each insert to match the surrounding area.
Images: Choi (left) lines the verso (back) of a page using toned mulberry tissue while Broadway fills losses from the verso using acrylic-toned, medium-weight mulberry paper / Leaves from the book, before treatment / Before-treatment image showing severe iron-gall ink corrosion / Close-up of Broadway filling a loss from the verso / Consolidating friable (or loosely adhered, easily disturbed) media before lining and filling losses
Preservation of the Free Library of Philadelphia's Pennsylvania German manuscript collection has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Because democracy demands wisdom. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this post do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.