Tag Archives: books

The Conservation of the 18th Century Sloan-Osborne Ciphering Book

[This blog post was written by Garrett Sumner, a graduate student at West Dean College and summer intern in the Conservation Lab]

As part of my internship at the Conservation Lab in the State Archives of North Carolina, I had the opportunity to work on a number of projects, but the one object that garnered most of my time was the Sloan-Osborne Ciphering Book (PC.1955). The Sloan-Osborne Ciphering Book is actually two distinct notebooks, one from the 1750s, and the other from the early 1780s, which were later sewn together. The notebooks contain numerous ciphering problems, such as long division and unit conversion, and were composed by two individuals, Adlai Osborne and Henry Sloan. While their exact relationship to one another is unclear, Sloan may have served as Osborne’s pupil at Charlotte’s Liberty Hall Academy, where Osborne may have given Sloan his notebook. The most intriguing aspect of the book is that it contains two partial snake skins that are still adhered to the paper. Most likely the book was stored in an attic or basement and one or more snakes slithered between the papers to shed their skin.

The book arrived in the conservation lab in a very poor condition, preventing its use by researchers. The paper was very brittle and cockled, and had suffered extensive water and pest damage. Furthermore, some pages were missing, removed either intentionally or accidentally. The iron gall ink used to write the notebook was fading, and in some areas had even burned through the paper.

PC1955

Example of iron gall ink burn and damage to paper.

In conservation practice we aim to follow two principles when treating an object: minimal intervention (doing as little as is needed), and reversibility (that any treatment performed can be reversed). However, when an object is so extensively damaged it cannot be safely handled, a more aggressive treatment may be necessary to stabilize it. Such was the case with the Ciphering Book.

The treatment plan for the book involved removing the original sewing thread to allow the paper to be washed. Because iron gall ink can be water-soluble, we first had to perform solubility tests by placing droplets of water, ethanol, or a mixture of the two in different areas to see if the ink migrated. The tests showed that some ink was water soluble, and so to err on the side of caution we used a solution of 50/50 water and ethanol for the bath. Although washing paper is a risky, non-reversible procedure, it can also remove dirt, discoloration, and the acidity that makes the brittle, as well as flattening out the folds and cockling in the paper.

The sheets were gently placed in the bath for 25 minutes. The paper was so dirty we could actually see the discoloration floating out of the paper. After washing, the sheets were then placed between felts to dry. A less invasive washing method was needed for the snakeskin pages. Instead of immersing the sheets in a bath, we placed them between sheets of blotting paper saturated with the 50/50 solution, along with a hole cut out in the areas around the snakeskin in order to not disturb them.

After drying, the paper was noticeably cleaner and flatter, and some of the writing was more legible as a result of the increased contrast between the ink and the now-cleaner paper. However, washing left the paper a bit weak and limp, so the paper was re-sized with a 0.5% gelatin solution. Paper was traditionally sized with gelatin, a type of animal-based adhesive, which would fill in the gaps of air between the paper fibers to give the paper more strength and protect it.

After more drying, the paper was ready to be mended. There were countless tears and holes on every sheet, in all shapes and sizes. When mending paper, conservators typically prefer to use Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. Japanese tissue is thin yet strong, with long fibers that allow it to easily blend into the original paper. Wheat starch paste is a refined paste made by hand using just starch and water. Together, these form a strong repair that can be reversed in the future with water, if needed. To mend the tears and holes, pieces of Japanese tissue were carefully torn to the appropriate shape, then brushed with paste and applied to paper.

Twenty-five hours later, the mending was complete, and the repaired book was ready to be resewn. Replicating the original sewing pattern would have been difficult and potentially damaging, so instead the book was sewn through five new holes using linen thread. A paper wrapper was sewn on the outside of the book in order to provide more protection. In all, the treatment took 49 hours to complete. After treatment, the book is now much cleaner and can be safely handled by researchers, snakeskins and all.

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I would like to thank the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for facilitating this internship and for providing guidance and assistance during its course, especially Dr. Kevin Cherry, Emily Rainwater, Kate Vukovich, and Mathew Waehner.

The Sloan-Osborne ciphering book is now available as part of our North Carolina Digital Collections!  http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p16062coll28/id/5601

 

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Local Artist and Community Leader Featured in Book

[This blog post comes from the Outer Banks History Center.]

Glen and Pat Eure hold a copy of the book recently donated to the OBHC

Glen and Pat Eure with a copy of the book Glenn Eure: Artful Rogue of the Outer Banks.

The Outer Banks History Center in Manteo was the recent recipient of the new book, Glenn Eure: Artful Rogue of the Outer Banks, written by the artist’s wife and gallery partner, Pat Eure, and published by Linda Lauby of the Outer Banks Press. The full-size, full-length book came about as a birthday tribute for Glenn’s 80th birthday and is filled with evocative color photos of the artist’s watercolors, wood cuts, sculpture and mixed media pieces. Pat’s poetry is interspersed amongst the art.

Pat and Glenn, an unparalleled artist and local icon, are well known in the Outer Banks community for their support of the arts and involvement with the Dare County Arts Council and other local causes. The Eures were active in Icarus International and instrumental in founding of the Icarus Monument to a Century of Flight. The only thing bigger and brighter than this book is the spirit of its creators, Miss Pat and Mr. Glenn.

Outer Banks History Center Aids in Publication

[This blog post comes from the Outer Banks History Center. It was written by researcher Alvah H. Ward, Jr.]

Cover of When Ice Came To The Outer Banks

Cover of When Ice Came To The Outer Banks

When Ice Came To The Outer Banks is a true story, written by local authors, that tells the story of how ice and its impact shaped the development of North Carolina’s coastal region.

Ice, first cut and harvested from local inland waters, augmented with ice cut from the lakes of New England and then from manufacturing plants, made possible the development of our commercial and sportfishing industries and the transition to the world-class vacation industry we have today.

The Outer Banks History Center and its excellent staff made this document possible. From the research material made available to us and the assistance rendered by the Center staff, the authors were able to trace the highlights of local history that contributed to the story of how ice was such a critical factor in the development of our present day economy.

It is the intention of the authors to provide the History Center with the complete file of research material, photos and documents that were used in the preparation of the finished works.

 

Native Americans in Early North Carolina: A Documentary History

[This press release comes from the Historical Publications Section of the Department of Cultural Resources.]

Cover of Native Americans in Early North Carolina: A Documentary History - now available from the Historical Publications Section

Cover of Native Americans in Early North Carolina: A Documentary History – now available from the Historical Publications Section

Native Americans in Early North Carolina: A Documentary History, edited by Dennis L. Isenbarger, is now available. This landmark work chronicles through primary sources the Native American experience in North Carolina from the earliest European explorations in the late sixteenth century through the last decades of the eighteenth century. Documents in the volume are drawn from journals and other personal accounts, the letters of both private citizens and government officials, land grants and deeds, court records, acts of the Assembly, correspondence and reports of government agencies involved in Indian affairs, records of the Executive Council, newspapers, governors’ papers, records of the Moravians, Church of England records, and the laws of North Carolina. General subjects presented through the sources are folkways, religion, trade, land (possession and dispossession), war, colonial interaction, and reservations.

Native Americans in Early North Carolina: A Documentary History (paperbound. pp. xiii, 362, indexed) retails for $20.00 (plus shipping and NC sales tax). Click here to order a copy through the online Historical Publications Shop.

Native Americans in Early North Carolina: A Documentary History is the third volume in the Documentary Histories of Early North Carolina series. The two prior volumes are Society in Early North Carolina: A Documentary History (2000) and African Americans in Early North Carolina: A Documentary History (2005). To purchase all three titles in the Documentary Histories of Early North Carolina series, for $33.00 (plus shipping and NC sales tax), a 40% discount off the cost of purchasing all three books separately, click here.

African American Freedom Book Set

[This press release comes from the Historical Publications Section of the Department of Cultural Resources.]

Celebrate Black History Month!

Book covers from the African American Freedom Book Set now available from Historical Publications.

Book covers from the African American Freedom Book Set now available from Historical Publications.

In celebration of Black History Month, Historical Publications is offering the African American Freedom Set. This set includes one (1) copy each of Recollections of My Slavery Days and James City: A Black Community in North Carolina, 1863-1900.

Recollections of My Slavery Days is the autobiographical account of William Henry Singleton (1843-1938), a Craven County enslaved person who escaped to Union-occupied New Bern in 1862 and served in the U.S. Army’s African Brigade during the remaining years of the Civil War.

James City tells the story of a community established in 1863 for destitute former enslaved people near New Bern. The town persisted from the post-Reconstruction period to the dawn of the twentieth century as a stronghold of black self-determination. James City residents were economically productive, politically active, and eager to be educated.

This two-volume set is priced at $12.00 (plus shipping and sales tax)—a 40% savings off the cost of purchasing the two books separately.

Click here to order your set today!

New Volume of the Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance Available

Book cover for the third volume in The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance covering the years 1864-1865.

Book cover for the third volume in The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance series; this volume covers the years 1864-1865.

[This press release comes from the Historical Publications Section of the Department of Cultural Resources.]

The third volume in The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance series is now available. The last eighteen months of Vance’s governorship at the end of the Civil War (1864-1865) are chronicled in the more than 200 letters and other documents transcribed and annotated in this volume. Topics discussed include conscription, desertion, disaffection among North Carolina citizens for the war effort, conflicts with the Confederate government over blockade running, impressment, and the increasing calls for a peace convention. Also included is the flurry of correspondence between Vance and Gen. Joseph E. Johnston prior to his surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman at Bennett Place in Durham on April 26, 1865.

The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance, Volume 3: 1864-1865 (hardbound, pp. xxxix, 584, illustrated and indexed) retails for $45.00 (plus shipping and NC sales tax). Click here to order a copy through the online Historical Publications Shop.

Historical Publications is also offering a Vance Papers set of volumes 1 (1843-1862), 2 (1863), and 3 (1864-1865) of the series for $60.00 (plus shipping and NC sales tax), a 37% savings off the purchase of the three volumes separately.

New Title from Historical Publications

[Our blog post today comes from the Historical Publications Section of the Dept. of Cultural Resources.]

North Carolina and the Two World Wars returns to print in a single volume two of the most popular titles published by the Historical Publications Section of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History. Based on extensive research,

Book cover for North Carolina and the Two World Wars

North Carolina and the Two World Wars returns to print in a single volume two of the most popular titles published by the Historical Publications Section of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History.

Dr. Sarah McCulloh Lemmon’s North Carolina’s Role in the First World War (1966) and North Carolina’s Role in World War II (1964) provided an introduction to the Tar Heel experience in these two pivotal events of the twentieth century. For this new work Dr. Nancy Smith Midgette of Elon University extensively updated and expanded Dr. Lemmon’s long-out-of-print texts. In addition, she researched and wrote a new chapter that discusses the interwar period between 1918 and 1941. The result is a concise, yet compelling, one-volume work surveying the events over four decades that boldly brought North Carolina into the Modern Era.

Dr. Sarah McCulloh Lemmon (1914–2002) was one of North Carolina’s preeminent historians. She earned a Ph.D. in history from UNC-Chapel Hill. During a thirty-five-year career at Meredith College, Dr. Lemmon served in a variety of positions from professor of history to department administrator to college historian.

Dr. Nancy Smith Midgette is professor of history at Elon University. She earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Georgia. Dr. Midgette is the author of To Foster the Spirit of Professionalism: Southern Scientists and State Academies of Science (2007), as well as a number of journal articles.

North Carolina and the Two World Wars (paperbound; pp. ix, 245; illustrations; index; 2013) sells for $24.55, which includes tax and shipping. Order from the Historical Publications Section (AB), Office of Archives and History, 4622 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4622. For credit card orders call (919) 733-7442, ext. 0, or visit the section’s secure online store at http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/. The book is also available through local bookstores and Amazon.com.