Chattanooga Communication Souvenir

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Prince Hall Temple Souvenir Pin, 1914. Chattanooga Button & Badge Manufacturing Company, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Gift of Valley of Columbus, Ohio, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, 99.013.29.

On August 2-7, 1914, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Tennessee celebrated its forty-fourth annual meeting, or Communication, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This souvenir badge in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library was created to commemorate that meeting and connects the stories of emancipation and African American Freemasonry.

The annual Communication was a chance for African American Masons from all over Tennessee to meet and visit. The larger Chattanooga African American community found other ways to convene. On January 1, 1914, leaders in the city hosted an “emancipation celebration.” As reported by the Chattanooga Daily Times, “the fifty-first anniversary of emancipation was celebrated yesterday by the colored population of Chattanooga under the auspices of the Colored Boosters' Club of this city.” The observance included speeches, banquets, musical performances, and a parade “nearly a quarter of a mile long.”

This anniversary celebration seems to have been tied to the original Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863. However, Lincoln’s Proclamation depended on the Union winning the Civil War to take effect in the South. Hence June 19, 1865–the day when news of the war’s end and the resulting emancipation of enslaved people reached the African American community in Galveston, Texas–is celebrated as the end of slavery in the United States. Five years after that momentous date, on August 31, 1870, the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Tennessee was founded.

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Prince Hall Temple Souvenir Pin, 1914. Chattanooga Button & Badge Manufacturing Company, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Gift of Valley of Columbus, Ohio, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, 99.013.29.

The pin at the top of this commemorative item shows the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge building in Chattanooga. This three-story brick building was built in the 1800s as a commercial building and renovated by the local Masonic community between 1903 and 1908 to house seven Prince Hall Affiliated Masonic lodges, three women’s auxiliaries, and one Knights Templar commandery. The building was located on East 9th Street, the same street as the City Auditorium where many events that were part of the 1914 Communication were held. The use of the Masonic Temple on the Annual Communication pin reflects the pride of Chattanooga Masons and celebrates the progress of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Tennessee.

The ribbon is marked on the back with the name of the maker, Chattanooga Button & Badge Mfg. Co. This company was founded around 1911 and located on East 4th Street in Chattanooga, a few blocks from East 9th Street where the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge was.

In preparation for inclusion in The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History, this souvenir badge was conserved in 2021. This souvenir, a compelling symbol of African American identity in the South after emancipation, will be on view at the Museum & Library until October 2024.


Similar examples at Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture:

Caring for Your Masonic Treasures - now available!

Caring for Your Masonic Treasures coverThe Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library often receives calls from Masonic lodges and Valleys asking how to preserve their historic documents—charters, minute books, and certificates—as well as photographs and books. We have updated and revised one of our most popular resources, Caring for Your Masonic Treasures. This 21-page booklet is now freely available online. Feel free to consult the PDF online, download it to your device, or print it out.

We hope this booklet will help you get started with preserving your lodge’s or Valley’s historic material. The booklet outlines various preservation techniques and explains:

  • The kinds of materials you might encounter in your collection
  • The ideal conditions in which to store your collections
  • The types of storage enclosures (boxes, folders, etc.) to use when storing your collections
  • How to contact and hire a professional conservator to repair damaged documents and books.

We hope that the guidelines in Caring for Your Masonic Treasures will help you feel confident that you are doing what you can to help insure the long-term preservation of your lodge’s or Valley’s documents, photographs, and books.

View Caring For Your Masonic Treasures – Digital Booklet (Issuu)

Download Caring For Your Masonic Treasures – PDF (15.1MB)

Rare J. J. J. Gourgas Manuscript Book Conserved

130015B000BT005In honor of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Scottish Rite, a rare manuscript book written by J. J. J. Gourgas (1777-1865) was conserved at Northeast Document Conservation Center. J. J. J. Gourgas was one of the earliest founders and charter members of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, was Secretary of the organization for over 20 years, and then served as Sovereign Grand Commander from 1832 until 1851. 

The photograph on the left shows the condition of the manuscript before conservation. According to the conservator's report, the manuscript pages were dirty, discolored, and acidic, yet flexible. There were tears on many pages and detached pages with paper seal had a major tear.  The text block consisted of support leaves of laid paper with entries in iron gall inks. The manuscript book's boards (or front and back covers) were worn at the corners.     

According to the treatment report from the conservator, the manuscript document was washed in filtered water and then alkalized or deacidified with calcium hydroxide.  Tears were mended and folds guarded where necessary with Japanese kozo paper and wheat starch paste.  Buffered barrier sheets were inserted where clippings, paper seals, or heavy ink deposits were causing discoloration on adjacent pages.  The board corners and edges were stabilized using wheat starch paste.  The detached manuscript pages (shown at the right) were placed in a buffered folder.  The volume and folder were housed in a custom drop-spine box. 130015B000AT005 

This document will be featured in the upcoming exhibition opening on June 15, 2013, "A Sublime Brotherhood:  200 Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Jurisdiction" for all to see.   The exhibition staff will turn the pages of the manuscript every month so that the inks do not fade from the light in the gallery. 

This conservation has ensured that the manuscript will have a long life and can safely be used and handled by staff and future researchers.

 For more information on the contents of this manuscript book, see our earlier blog post.


Photographs of Gourgas Manuscript before and after treatment by Northeast Document Conservation Center by NEDCC staff, 2013.

Brave the Snow to See our Cozy Masonic Quilts!

95.043.11 overall after consHere in New England, it’s the time of year when nothing seems more cozy than curling up in a warm quilt. There is no better time to visit our exhibition, “Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles.” The exhibit is on view through March 23, 2013, so make plans now to see it before it closes. The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with free admission and free parking.

Among the needlework on view is this quilt from about 1860, which is one of my personal favorites. I have always been drawn to its graphic nature. Unfortunately, it has rarely been exhibited because the red fabric was disintegrating and hanging it in the gallery would have caused more damage. Fortunately, we were able to perform some conservation work on the quilt to better preserve it and to finally show it off. You can see a “before” image below to the right.  As you can see, the blocks along the left-hand side of the quilt suffered the most disintegration. 95_043_11T1

This appliqué quilt is comprised of sixteen blocks showing the most common Masonic symbol – the square and compasses, signifying reason and faith. Freemasonry grew out of medieval stonemason trade guilds in England and Scotland, eventually becoming a fraternal society for men encouraging sound moral and social virtues. Freemasonry’s tenets are taught through a series of ritualized lessons using symbols to remind the initiates of important principles. Each block also shows the letter G, which stood for geometry, God, or both. At the corners of each block are four important Masonic symbols: a level symbolizing equality; a plumb signifying uprightness; a gavel reminding Masons to divest the heart of vice; and a trowel that spreads the cement that unites Freemasons in brotherly love.

95.043.11 detail after consTo get it ready for the exhibition, we worked with textile conservator Marie Schlag from The Studio for Textile Conservation in Scituate, Massachusetts. She painstakingly stabilized 35 different areas of the quilt with polyester organza.  The organza helps to reduce further disintegration and covers the areas where the foundation fabric is showing through.  This treatment allows the quilt’s red and green graphic pattern to come to the front once again. In this detail at left, you can see the muting effect of the organza where the red fabric has been lost. We are very pleased to be able to share this quilt in its newly improved condition with our visitors and look forward to caring for it for years to come.

Masonic Quilt, ca. 1860, American, Museum purchase, 95.043.11. Before photograph by David Bohl.

Our Banner Project!

01_AT_Obverse_NHM_Banner_96.002a-bLast spring, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library received an American Heritage Preservation grant of almost $3,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support conservation treatment and archival storage housing for three fraternal banners in the collection. The Museum was one of only four institutions in Massachusetts to receive an award.

The IMLS grant is particularly important to the Museum & Library because of the nature of its Masonic and fraternal collections. Many of the objects in the Museum’s collection are not widely collected by other history museums, so the staff often has to devise creative solutions to store the objects and to protect them through conservation. Pursuing best practices for our collection and working to conserve and preserve delicate materials are highly prioritized stated goals in our Collections Plan.

By 1900, over 250 fraternal groups existed in the United States, numbering six million members. Banners were an important component of American fraternal activities. These colorful textiles were used inside lodges and also in public parades and at cornerstone layings and other ceremonies. Photographs and prints from the Museum’s collection show us just how widespread the use of these banners was. An image clipped from a newspaper or magazine around 1868 shows a group of Odd Fellows taking part in a public parade (see below). Their banner is clearly shown in the picture near the center of the group. Many fraternal groups made sure to include their banner when they took formal portraits. For example, a Modern Woodmen of America Axe Drill Team from Kentucky prominently showed off their banner in an early 1900s photograph (see below).96_042_3DS1

The banners that were treated are all double-sided, allowing their respective groups to advertise themselves to audiences in front of and behind them during parades and processions. Two of the banners covered by the grant are from the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., the Museum’s parent organization. The third banner was originally used by the fraternal group known as the Journeymen Stonecutters Association. The oldest active union in the United States, the group formally organized in 1853. Members were (and are) working stone cutters and carvers. This particular banner was used by the branch in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. It was locally made by the William H. Horstmann Company in Philadelphia, a company that made regalia and props for many American fraternal groups during the late 1800s and early 1900s.2003_022_2T1

One of the Scottish Rite banners received much-needed conservation treatment (above left). It showed signs of age, as well as damage from long-term exposure to the environment and stress from gravity. The surface was rippled throughout and the painted sections were worn, with some loss. The banner showed structural damage and staining. The treatment, performed by Windsor Conservation of Dover, Massachusetts, provided conservation cleaning and stabilization of the most critical structural damage. The banner has been surface cleaned, with special attention paid to mitigating the stained areas. Detached fringe trimming on the edges and the detached valance at the top were re-attached. The banner’s decorative tassels were also repaired and stabilized.

01_BT_Obverse_NHM_Banner_98.014The second Scottish Rite banner and the Journeymen Stonecutters banner (at left) - both of which show significant areas of split silk that could only be treated at great cost – have been rehoused in specially-fabricated archival boxes. This archival storage treatment provides a preventive measure for the banners, which were previously stored uncovered on large, heavy pieces of plastic. The banners are now tacked to a padded fabric-covered board that can be used safely for occasional display and for handling. The new storage boxes protect the banners from light damage and the added resting boards prevent the need to move the banners from one flat surface to another, cutting down on the risk of further damage.

We are currently working on plans to exhibit at least one of the banners this coming summer, so please check our website for upcoming details!

Scottish Rite Banner, 1890-1930, American. Gift of the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 2011.017. Photograph by Windsor Conservation.

Journeyman Stone Cutters Association of North America Parade Banner, 1891, William H. Horstmann Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gift of Jane Hilburt-Davis in memory of Ellen Vinnacombe Francis, 98.014. Photograph by Windsor Conservation.

Semi-Centennial Celebration of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, ca. 1868, Theodore R. Davis, New York. Museum Purchase, 96.042.3.

Modern Woodmen of America Axe Drill Team 1908-1912, Schroeter Studio, Green River, Kentucky. Museum Purchase, 2003.022.2.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Masonic Apron Mystery: Are These From the Same Hand?

76.22 Windsor Conservation PhotoAs we have explained in previous posts, we have a wonderful collection of Masonic aprons at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. This striking painted apron, which is among my favorites, recently received some conservation treatment prior to being shown in our current exhibition, Inspired by Fashion: American Masonic Regalia. Prior to the treatment, the apron was in poor condition with severe splits to the silk ground fabric, as well as discoloration and staining. Conservator Deirdre Windsor of Windsor Conservation in Dover, Massachusetts, carefully surface-cleaned the apron as part of a treatment to stabilize it for exhibition and research, and to aid its long-term preservation. She humidified the apron to flatten out the creases and ripples. And, in order to employ best practices in preserving and exhibiting the apron, it was put into a pressure mount that provides full support of the fragile silk and protects the apron from airborne pollutants and soils.

The apron was donated to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in 1976 by a descendant of its original owner, Conrad Edick (1763-1845). Edick was born in German Flats, Herkimer County, New York, and lived there until the town was burned by the British in 1779, when he and his stepfather, Nicholas Weaver, moved to Stone Arabia, Montgomery County, New York. Shortly after the move, in 1780, Edick volunteered as a ranger in the Revolutionary War and saw several subsequent service assignments until his regiment disbanded in 1784. In 1787, Edick settled in Deposit, New York, where he married Margaret Whitaker (1770-1798) and became a merchant. Shortly after Margaret died in 1798, Edick married his second wife, Elizabeth Sneeden (1778-1858). With his two wives, Edick had nine children.

Records at the Grand Lodge of New York show that Conrad Edick was a member of Charity Lodge No. 170 in Deposit between 1814 and 1819. Other details about his Masonic membership require further research. The materials used to make the apron, along with the style of clothing worn by the Masons depicted on it help us date the apron to the early 1800s. This evidence supports the idea that Edick wore this apron to lodge meetings in Deposit.84_15DI1

The distinctive decoration of the apron suggests that it may have been made by the same person who created a second apron in the Museum’s collection (at right). The Museum acquired this second apron at auction in 1984, so unfortunately, we do not know its provenance – where it originally came from, or who owned it. But, the striking similarities in the colors and motifs strongly suggest that both aprons were made in the same shop.

Adding intrigue to the story about these aprons is the recent discovery of two more aprons showing a very similar style – in the collection of the Henry W. Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry at the Grand Lodge of California in San Francisco. Collections Manager Adam Kendall takes it from here to tell us about those aprons:

571_Fraktur_Edick clone_1The first example (at left) is almost identical to the Edick apron, although in this case, there was no provenance documented in the original museum records and, unlike the Edick apron, there is no name inscribed within the ovals on the upper flap; they are left blank. However, its resemblance is uncanny and its possible relationship was brought to my attention by first seeing the Edick apron in Bespangled, Painted and Embroidered by Barbara Franco. The layout, the materials, the colors, the Germanic fraktur-style lettering, and the overall artistic style all point to a possibility that the aprons are from the same artist, or at least a close copy from a similar time period.

The second apron (below at right) is also similar to the Edick apron and gives much more detail: an inscription under the flap states that it was "used to raise Brother Ralph Hankins, Tammany Lodge No. 83, November 16, 1807." St. Tammany Lodge was founded in 1800 near what is now Milanville, Pennsylvania—a 45 mile distance from Deposit, New York (the latter location being the origin of Edick’s apron).

Like the two other aprons, it is hand painted and inked on silk with various Masonic symbols - most prominently the personification of Hope standing beside her anchor. On the rounded flap is an all-seeing eye flanked by two cherubim holding cloth banners that spell out Sanctum and Sanctorum. The entire scene is stylistically reminiscent of the aforementioned aprons, the common design of other Masonic aprons of that era notwithstanding.7912_Tammany_whole

While there are many stylistic similarities—particularly the cherubim and the calligraphy (Sanctum and Sanctorum) upon the festoons in their tiny hands, it is my belief, due to slight artistic differences, that this apron may not have originated from the same maker as Edick’s. However, it is most certainly from the same general location, and resembles the Palatine German decorative art motifs common in Edick’s birthplace of German Flats, Herkimer County, NY. As observed by Franco, “Edick’s apron is a Germanic interpretation of a popular Masonic design which appeared in English and American engravings between 1790 and 1815.” I do believe the two aprons within the possession of the Henry W. Coil Museum and Library can be classified in this same category.

Have you ever seen another apron decorated like this? Please let us know in a comment below. And, to see the Edick apron in person, visit the Inspired by Fashion exhibition before March 24, 2012.

Top Left: Masonic Apron, 1800-1820, New York. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, gift of J. Earl Edick, 76.22. Photograph by Windsor Conservation.

Top Right: Masonic Apron, 1800-1820, probably New York. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Special Acquisitions Fund, 84.15. Photograph by David Bohl.

Bottom photos: Courtesy of Adam Kendall, Collections Manager at the Henry W. Coil Library & Museum of Freemasonry,

Reference: Barbara Franco, Bespangled, Painted & Embroidered: Decorated Masonic Aprons in America, 1790-1850, Lexington, MA: Museum of Our National Heritage, 1980.

Keeping collections safe from flood, fire, and mold

Water mains break, electrical wires can malfunction, and climate control systems can fail--all of which can threaten the safety of a cultural institution's collections. How do organizations manage a disaster or emergency of this kind? As well as these type of emergencies, other major disasters can threaten  collections: flooding, fire, earthquake, or vandalism. Many museums in the United States have experienced disasters of various types. From their experiences, the museum community learns how to cope.

In the summer of 2008, Iowa's Cedar Rapids Museum of Art was hit by severe flooding.  It tookFlood at Cedar Rapids Art Museum  the museum a full year to get back to normal operations. The collections storage and preparation areas in the basement were damaged. All staff took time away from their normal duties to help with reconstructing of storage spaces--one painting at a time.

After the earthquake of 1989 in San Francisco, California museums became models for disaster response and recovery. The Oakland Museum of California even prepared an exhibition about the topic.

Other museums, such as the Saskatchewan Western Development Museum, document disasters that they've coped with. In this case, in Canada, the museum suffered severe damage to its roof from a wind storm in 2003.

Vadalism at Cairo Museum One recent example of a disaster at a museum was the damage done to some of the ancient treasures at the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo during the 2011 political protests of the Egyptian people against the regime of Hosni Mubarak. The museum is home to some of the world's most precious antiquities, an estimated 120,000 artifacts, including the treasures of King Tutankhamen. The damage done to Egyptian artifacts is major and curators must now assess the extent of the damage and begin conservation or restoration of the pieces.

As part of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library's Preservation initiatives, we are creating an Emergency Preparedness Plan. During 2011 we will be using and online tool called dPlan which was written, designed, and is maintained by Northeast Document Conservation Center.  NEDCC is a premier center for disseminating information about preservation and conservation.

The Northeast Document Conservation Center and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners share dPlan, a free online program to help institutions write comprehensive disaster plans. The program provides templates for museums of all sizes to develop a customized plan with checklists; salvage priorities; preventive maintenance schedules; contact information for personnel, insurance, and IT help; and a list of emergency supplies and services are included.


Flooding entrance to Cedar Rapids Museum of Art,

Antiquities Damaged at Egyptian National Museum,

A Brittle and Torn Manuscript: Conservation of an early Scottish Rite Patent

Hays patent before conservation by NEDCC_CROPPED In selecting an item for conservation this spring, I chose a Scottish Rite patent from Henry Andrew Francken (1720-1795) to Moses Michael Hays (1739-1805). The document was in poor condition. Up until the mid-19th century, paper was generally made from linen and rags, materials which contribute to their physical integrity and longevity. The later nineteenth-century practice of adding cheaper wood pulp in the paper-making practice is what contributes to the type of brittle paper that we usually attribute to many late 19th-century newspapers, books, and other documents. (For more on this topic, and other factors that contribute toward paper deteriorating, check out the Library of Congress's helpful page on the subject). Despite being from a period when we might expect paper to be strong, the Hays patent was very brittle because the iron gall ink had burned through the document in several places. In addition, there were many tears and breaks along the folds of the manuscript and the upper left portion of the manuscript was detached (see photo at left).

In anticipation of the upcoming 200th anniversary (1813-2013) of the birth of the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, I selected this document for conservation.  This is a very early and important Scottish Rite patent, a manuscript copy in Hays' handwriting, and dated 1768. The location of Francken's original patent to Hays is unknown. On December 6, 1768, Francken appointed Hays to be a Deputy Inspector General for the West Indies and North America.  This appointment and patent gave Hays the authority to confer the degrees of the Order of the Royal Secret upon selected Master Masons. The twenty-five degrees of the Order of the Royal Secret (often called the Rite of Perfection) was a precursor to the Scottish Rite, which was officially formed in 1801. Hays, born to a Dutch family in New York, lived in New York City at the time that Francken deputized him. A year later, in 1769, Hays was made the first Master of the newly formed King David's Lodge, a lodge whose namesake reflects the Jewish faith of its first officers (the silversmith Myer Myers was Senior Warden, and Isaac Moses was Junior Warden). Hays later relocated to Newport Rhode Island and then Boston. Hays served as Grand Master Massachusetts Grand Lodge from 1788-92.

Hays patent after 
conservation by NEDCC_CROPPEDThe document was taken to the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Massachusetts, which specializes in preservation and conservation of paper-based objects. Here, their trained professionals cleaned the document using dry cleaning techniques to reduce surface soil.  Then, the document was immersed in a filtered water and alcohol bath to clean the paper and reduce acidity.  After this, the item was alkalized (or deacidified) with a calcium hydroxide solution.  The document was later backed with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste to mend tears and fill in losses to provide overall support.  Lastly, it was humidified again and dried flat between blotters under light pressure.

When the document was completely dry, it was encapsulated in a polyester film (Melinex) to protect against dirt, handling, and atmospheric pollution (see photo at right).  This important manuscript can now be viewed and studied in preparation for the 200th anniversary of the Supreme Council.

Conservation of Masonic Treasures: Saving the Mark Book

A92_001_1Thwing_cropped The King Hiram Royal Arch Chapter mark book (1825-1838) is a key Masonic treasure for both exhibition and research at the National Heritage Museum.  Because of renewed interest and fresh research related to this particular manuscript volume (as seen in three previous blog posts by National Heritage Museum staff members), the Library and Archives decided to explore the possibilities of having conservation work done on this object. The mark book contains the "marks" of men who received the Mark Master Mason degree in King Hiram Royal Arch Chapter in Greenwich, Massachusetts. The book is nearly two hundred years old and it shows its age: the book's binding is detached and the beautiful pages with watercolored Masonic "marks" are coming loose. I contacted Northeast Document Conservation Center and spoke with Deb Wender, Director of Book Conservation. We spoke about the mark book and what type of repair it needed.  We then sent the item to NEDCC via US Art, a company that transports fine art, so that the NEDCC staff could physically evaluate the object and provide us with cost estimates for different conservation treatments.

Soon thereafter, I received a treatment proposal from Mary Patrick Bogan, Senior Book Conservator at NEDCC.  This treatment proposal first described the condition of the piece upon receipt.  Bogan described the bound manuscript as worn and deteriorated.  The paper and leather were detached from the frontboard and backboard.  The binding was nearly detached.  The watercolored pages were dirty, discolored, acidic, and stained. She described the paper as flexible, however some of the pages had small tears and were cockled along the edges. 

The second part of the treatment proposal contains the recommended conservation treatment. Bogan describes step by step how repair will proceed.  NEDCC always provides both a written record of treatment plus before and after conservation photographs. The pages of the mark book would be collated where necessary, vacuumed, and surface cleaned to remove loose dirt.  Then the item would be disbound, removing the sewing and separating the sections.  Stains along the folds of the pages would be treated using moisture.  The blank pages at the end of the item would be washed in water to clean and reduce acidity.  The pages with watercolors would be alkalized by immersion in a calcium hydroxide bath to protect the paper from formation of acid in the future.  Small tears in the pages would be repaired with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste.  The text would then be reassembed and pressed to flatten.  Linen thread would be used to sew the pages into sections. A92_001_1T1Tabbot_cropped

Bogan gave me two options for the binding of the mark book. First she proposed to bind the manuscript in cloth using a case structure.  The second option would be to repair the existing binding by rebacking the piece with airplane linen and Japanese paper and constructing a custom-made storage box for it.

After further discussions with Bogan, we decided to move forward with the recommended treatment of the piece. We chose the second option for rebinding the manuscript because this will preserve the mark book's artifactual value as well as the inner informational value.

The mark book will likely be at NEDCC for six to eight months.  However, after the conservation work is complete and item returned, we will have a Masonic treasure that is more physically stable, has a longer life, and has its future ensured at the museum!

Captions for this post: 

Right: Mark of William K. Talbot, King Hiram Royal Arch Chapter Mark Book, 1825-1838, Martha S. Harding (1813-1841), New Salem, Massachusetts, Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, National Heritage Museum, Museum purchase, A92/001/1, photograph by David Bohl.

Left: Mark of Thomas Thwing, King Hiram Royal Arch Chapter Mark Book, 1825-1838, Martha S. Harding (1813-1841), New Salem, Massachusetts, Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, National Heritage Museum, Museum purchase, A92/001/1, photograph by David Bohl.

IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf

Connecting_to_collections The National Heritage Museum was selected as a recepient of the IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf, a core set of conservation books and online resources donated by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS has awarded almost 3,000 free sets of the IMLS Bookshelf, in cooperation with the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH).

For the next few weeks we're displaying the books that we received as part of the IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf in the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives reading room (see the picture above). Educating the public about preservation and conservation is an important part of the work we do. Along with the display of the books we've received, we have an informational sign that explains how we got these resources and why they're important.

But wait, there's more! A companion to the IMLS Bookshelf is the excellent Guide to Online Resources, which is another great way to learn more about preservation and conservation. In the reading room, we're showing the Connecting to Collections DVD as well. (Can't make it here? You can also watch the 4-minute video online.)

How did we get these great resources? The National Heritage Museum received this essential set of resources based on an application describing the needs and plans for the care of its collections. The IMLS Bookshelf focuses on collections typically found in art or history museums and in libraries' special collections, with an added selection of texts for zoos, aquaria, public gardens, and nature centers. It addresses such topics as the philosophy and ethics of collecting, collections management and planning, emergency preparedness, and culturally specific conservation issues.

We've cataloged the books so that anyone searching our online catalog or OCLC's WorldCat will know that we have these resources. The staff that works with collections here at the museum is happy to be the beneficiaries of the IMLS's generosity.

Here's a list of the resources we received:

Adelstein, Peter Z. IPI Media Storage Quick Reference. Rochester, NY: Image Permanence Institute, 2004.

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. The AIC Guide to Digital Photography and Conservation Documentation. Washington, DC:American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. 2008.

Canadian Conservation Institute, Department of Canadian Heritage. Framework for Preservation of Museum Collections. Wall chart. Ottawa: Canadian Conservation Institute, 2004.

Drewes, Jeanne M. and Julie A. Page, eds. Promoting Preservation Awareness in Libraries. West Port, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997.

Ellis, Margaret Holben. The Care of Prints and Drawings. New York: AltaMira Press, 1995.

Gorman, G. E., and Sydney J. Shep, eds. Preservation Management for Libraries, Archives and Museums. London: Facet Publishing, 2006.

Heritage Preservation, The National Institute for Conservation. Capitalize on Collections Care. Washington, DC: Heritage Preservation Inc., 2007.

_____. Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel. Washington, DC: Heritage Preservation Inc., 2005.

_____. Field Guide to Emergeny Response. Washington, DC: Heritage Preservation Inc., 2006.

International Review of African American Art: Collecting, Conservation, and Collaborations, 22.1, 2007.

Long, Jane S. and Richard W. Long. Caring for Your Family Treasures. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, 2000.

Malaro, Marie C. A Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1985.

National Park Service. Museum Handbook Part I: Museum Collections. Washington, DC: National Park Service, 2006.

National Trust. The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping: The Care of Collections in Historic Houses Open to the Public. Amsterdam: Elsevier. 2006.

Ogden, Sherelyn, ed. Caring for American Indian Objects: A Practical and Cultural Guide. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2004.

Ritzenthaler, Mary Lynn and Diane L. Vogt O’Connor. Photographs: Archival Care and Management. Chicago: Society of American Archivists, 2006.

Ward, Philip. The Nature of Conservation: A Race Against Time. Marina del Rey, CA: The Getty Conservation Institute, 1986.