Tag Archives: conservation

Support the Conservation of Our Archival Treasures

[This blog post comes from the Friends of the Archives.]

The Friends of the Archives is a non-profit organization that privately funds some of the services, activities, and programs of the State Archives of North Carolina not provided by state-appropriated funding. Some of our most treasured documents are in critical need of preservation and restoration.  After careful evaluation of these materials, the Friends has set their funding goal for 2018.

Detail of a portrait of King Charles on the first page of the Carolina Charter of 1663

The first page of the Carolina Charter features an elaborate drawing of King Charles. Learn more about this document in the North Carolina Digital Collections: http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll11/id/10

The Carolina Charter needs immediate attention.  The Carolina Charter of 1663 is considered the “birth certificate” of North Carolina. The document consists of four vellum sheets and details the granting of land in what is now known as North Carolina. It has been more than twenty years since the Carolina Charter has been examined for treatment. The document will be exhibited in early spring and repairs are needed immediately.

North Carolina’s original copy of the Bill of Rights serves as an example of North Carolina’s involvement in the ratification of the United States Constitution.  The one-page document was presented to North Carolina after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

The Papers of Peter Carteret, Governor of the County of Albemarle. The county of Albemarle is the oldest county government in North Carolina. Peter Carteret served as governor of the Precinct of Albemarle from 1670 to 1673 and his papers document his influence and actions from 1666 to 1673 in Albemarle County.

We have already raised $3,500 of the approximate $12,000 needed for the preservation of these documents.

North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789

North Carolina’s copy of the Bill of Rights, 1789. Part of the Vault Collection. Available online at http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p15012coll11/id/29.

These precious documents are exhibited for special occasions but even the slightest exposure to light can be harmful to them.  With improvements in preservation technology, we will be able to conserve these documents for an extended period.

To donate to this preservation fund, join the Friends of the Archives, or renew your membership, visit the Friends of the Archives  website and click on Become A Friend of the Archives Today!  If you are already a member you may donate on that same page. Benefits of membership include discounted registration to public programs and on some publications, DVDs, and posters. Please note that The Charter is now available only electronically, so please don’t forget to include your e-mail address.

If you’ve already renewed for 2018 or made donations to preservation, thank you. As a member of The Friends your support is an important part of our success.


Preservation Matting and Framing

[This blog post was written by Jennifer Blomberg, Head of the Collections Management Branch.]

The Collections Management Branch has been busy preparing State Archives materials to go on display in the Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives of North Carolina exhibit opening at the Museum of History. Displaying original objects can be very challenging and can even compromise preservation efforts. To minimize the risk and damage of exhibiting our material, we have taken a lot of preservation actions. Some of these include carefully selecting stable original objects, using facsimiles, rotating sensitive and fragile materials, limiting length of the exhibit, having low light levels in the gallery, and using preservation matting and framing.

Long term display of original materials is not recommended, but when displaying an original object is desired, the object needs to be protected from light, air, and touching. Below are some tips and guidelines on preservation matting and framing of original materials.

Preservation Matting and Framing

Preservation matting and framing are the methods and special framing materials used to limit risks to objects on display. The key to preservation matting and framing is using conservation quality materials that are chemically stable.

  • The matboard for the window and the back-mat needs to be made of 100% cotton rag, lignin-free wood pulp stock, and pH-neutral or slightly alkaline.
  • UV-filtering glazing used to help mitigate the irreversible damage from light. Glazing should never come in contact with the object and acrylic glazing should not be used with friable media.
  • Use caution when using wood frames. If using a wood frame, the interior of the frame should be lined with a barrier film to prevent acids in the wood from migrating to the matboard and object.
  • Make sure the mat package is firmly secured in the frame using pins or brads, not tape. Ensure that the frame package is constructed in such a way as to minimize warping, bowing, and bending.

Preferred Display Areas and Storage

  • Always display and store objects out of direct sunlight
  • Do not display objects near fireplaces, radiators, windows, and air vents
  • Display originals on interior walls
  • Do not store objects in basements, attics, or areas prone to environmental extremes or with high risk of water leaks or flooding

Conservation quality matboard package

Conservation quality matboard package

UV filtering acrylic

UV filtering acrylic

Always contact a professional framer, collections specialist, or conservator if you are considering displaying your original materials. Please feel free to contact Jennifer Blomberg, Head of Collections Management Branch if you have questions on preservation and how to protect and safeguard your collections.

State Archives on North Carolina Weekend

The Collecting Carolina segment on the State Archives of North Carolina features many archival resources including the map collection.

The Collecting Carolina segment on the State Archives of North Carolina features many archival resources including the map collection.

The State Archives of North Carolina was featured on the UNC-TV program North Carolina Weekend last week. The Collecting Carolina segment includes an introduction to genealogical and historical research at the State Archives, several of the treasures from the vault collection, and the State Archives conservation lab. It is available online on the North Carolina Weekend website and UNC-TV PBS video.

UNC-TV is watched by more than 4 million viewers each week, and almost 75,000 members send in their contributions each year to keep UNC-TV on the air. During 2014-2015, UNC-TV and its partners produced more than 340 hours of original local programming, making it a leader in the public television industry in that respect. UNC-TV has received 7 Regional Emmy Awards already this year and many other honors for its programming and services over the years. UNC-TV’s programming reaches into 13 million homes including all of North Carolina, into portions of Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Historic Paper Repair

[This blog post was written by Emily Rainwater, Conservator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

How would you fix a torn piece of paper without tape? One way might be to take another, smaller piece of paper and glue it on top of the tear. This actually forms the basis of modern conservation repair work, though Conservators take great care when choosing both the paper and adhesive. The repair paper is usually an extremely thin tissue with long fibers and excellent aging properties, while the adhesive will be non-staining and easily reversible even with age.


Historic paper repair on MC.150.1775m, c. 2

Historic paper repair on MC.150.1775m, c. 2


Another way would be to sew the tear back together. This is seen more commonly with parchment as it tends to be sturdier and less likely to tear further from the stitches. However, if the paper is good quality and in good condition, it can be sewn as well, as seen in this example from the Northampton County Apprentice Bonds.


Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2 (Front)

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2

Northampton County Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1797-1888, 071.101.2 (Back)

If a historic repair is still working and functioning properly, I will frequently leave it intact. However, if it is damaging the paper, either because it has caused a new breaking point or was done using harmful materials, I may remove it and replace it with a more conservationally sound repair. In the case of this Apprentice Bond, both the paper and repair were in good condition, so the sewing was left intact.

Conservation Treatment of a Company Payroll

[This blog post was written by Emily Rainwater, Conservator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Company payroll, before treatment

Company payroll, before treatment

During Preservation Week, the State Archives will be displaying a recently conserved 1864 payroll for Company G of the 38th North Carolina Infantry, Confederate States Army. When it was donated, the company payroll was in poor condition. Though the family had done what they could to preserve it, the document suffered from previous water damage and had numerous tears and areas where the paper was lost completely. Some of the text areas were folded over, which obscured the information. There were also several old pieces of tape which had been used at some point to hold the document together. As regular readers of The Charter know, tape can cause a lot of damage, and can be extremely time consuming for a Conservator to remove.

After conservation treatment

After conservation treatment

The treatment started out with thorough written and photographic documentation of the condition of the payroll. Solubility testing was carried out to see if the various printing and manuscript inks could be safely washed, as well as to test what solvent combination would work best on the tape. The document was cleaned with a soft brush, and then each piece of tape and its sticky residue was carefully removed. The document was then washed in a bath to remove some of the products of deterioration which had built up in the paper as well as re-establish the chemical bonds. Next, the document was placed in an alkaline bath, which raises the pH of the paper slightly and gives it a buffer against future acidic degradation. The document was dried flat, and then carefully mended back together using wheat starch paste and a thin Japanese tissue which had been toned to match the color of the paper. Larger areas of loss were filled in with a heavier weight tissue. Finally, the payroll was encapsulated to add protection from handling.

The exhibit will be up through the end of the week and will display the newly conserved payroll and show examples of preservation techniques used to protect paper based materials. The exhibit will take place in the Search Room of the State Archives of North Carolina located at 109 E. Jones Street, 2nd floor. The State Archives is open 8am – 5:30am, Tuesday –Friday and 9am-2pm on Saturday.

A Housing for Cigarettes

[This blog post was written by Emily Rainwater, Conservator for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

Closed housing for the David Tudor concert programs, BMCRP Series VI Box 76

New housing for the David Tudor concert programs, BMCRP Series VI Box 76. Click the image to see a larger view.

David Tudor (1926-1996) was a pianist and composer of experimental electronic music. He was an instructor and pianist-in-residence at Black Mountain College during the summer sessions from 1951-1953. On July 4, 1953 David Tudor gave a concert at Black Mountain College with programs printed on cigarette papers by BMC Print Shop. The State Archives of North Carolina holds two of these programs at the Western Regional Archives, one printed horizontally in red and one printed vertically in blue. These programs are in their original rolled cigarette form and remain filled with tobacco.

H-frame during construction for the David Tudor concert programs.

H-frame during construction for the David Tudor concert programs. Click the image to see a larger view.

David Tudor concert programs, BMCRP Series VI Box 76

David Tudor concert programs, BMCRP Series VI Box 76. Click the image to see a larger view.

The concert programs needed a new housing which would better protect the fragile objects. A support structure was created for them by cutting an “H” shape out of several layers of museum quality mat board. The legs of the H hold the cigarettes in place while the cross of the H allows for easier handling if they ever need removing from the housing. After adhering multiple layers of mat board together, the frame is thick enough to protect the programs from pressure coming from above. The cut edges of the H were lined with Japanese tissue to help smooth the transition between the layers. The H frame was adhered to several more pieces of mat board to form a backing layer. The completed frame was inserted into a custom cloth covered clamshell box which will provide additional protection.

A view of the new housing for the David Tudor concert programs, BMCRP Series VI Box 76.

A view of the new housing for the David Tudor concert programs, BMCRP Series VI Box 76. Click the image to see a larger view. A closer look at the programs is available through the NC Digital Collections.

The Care and Handling of Family Papers, Photographs, and Essential Records

The State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) in collaboration with the State Archives of North Carolina has produced a series of tutorials that provide basic information about the care and handling of family papers. These tutorials were funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The complete series is available on YouTube and selected tutorials are also available in the Preservation section of the State Archives website.

Videos in this series include:

  1. Identifying and Protecting Essential Family Records
  2. General Paper Preservation Tips
  3. Caring for and Sharing Family and Personal Papers
  4. The Care and Preservation of Family Photographs
  5. Managing and Preserving Digital Images