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Fort Stanwix Orderly Book
Conserving the Orderly Book
When Fort Stanwix National Monument received the Orderly Book of Major John Grahm’s Company of the 1st New York Regiment, it was in poor condition. Half of the front cover was missing, some of the leather from the spine was detached...
... and many pages were dirty, damaged, tattered or torn.
The orderly book was sent to the National Park Service paper conservation laboratory in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where paper conservators and specialized contractors were engaged to restore the historic artifact.
Conservation treatments on damaged and fragile materials require delicate tool skills, manual dexterity, and very sensitive tactile abilities.
Conservators do not wear gloves when treating the delicate paper, but instead wash their hands carefully before treatment.
Before conservation treatment begins the Orderly Book is carefully examined and details recorded such as the structure of the book and any damage.
The Orderly Book is disbound, or taken apart, into its separate parts: the front and back covers, sections of pages called “gatherings,” and the spine.
The spine is the hinged flexible leather that holds the front and back covers together.
Under a microscope, dirt is removed from the pages individually.
Tears in the paper are mended with laboratory prepared wheat starch paste and thin, but strong, handmade tissue (torn page above).
(Mended page above).
Weight is then applied so the mends will dry flat.
In this picture, all the individual book pages are now cleaned, mended, and organized into their original gatherings and ready to be sewn back together.
When this book was made in the 18th century, the pages were sewn together. The old, but now mended, sewing holes are used again.
Special linen thread is sewn through folds in the paper and looped around the cords to join the pages back together as a book.
The covers of the Orderly Book were made of layers of thick paper. The original cords were inserted between the cover layers to join together the pages, sewing, and covers. The new cords and tabs of paper and fabric are joined to the covers in the same way.
When the Orderly Book first arrived at the paper conservation laboratory, half of the front cover was missing.
During the conservation treatment, a new section was created for the front cover and attached to the remains of the original cover, thus completing the conservation of the Orderly Book.