• Part of a roofline shows from one building. Trees with fall color leaves on them fill most of the photo. A lamp-post is near center of the photo.

    Harpers Ferry Center

Fort Stanwix Orderly Book

Conserving the Orderly Book

Fort Stanwix Orderly Book

Step 1

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...

Pages from the Orderly Book

Step 2

... and many pages were dirty, damaged, tattered or torn.

NPS paper conservation laboratory

Step 3

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.

Examining the Orderly Book

Step 4

Conservation treatments on damaged and fragile materials require delicate tool skills, manual dexterity, and very sensitive tactile abilities.

Examining the Orderly Book

Step 5

Conservators do not wear gloves when treating the delicate paper, but instead wash their hands carefully before treatment.

Examining the Orderly Book

Step 6

Before conservation treatment begins the Orderly Book is carefully examined and details recorded such as the structure of the book and any damage.

Taking apart the Orderly Book

Step 7

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.

Remnants of the leather spine

Step 8

The spine is the hinged flexible leather that holds the front and back covers together.

Removing dirt under a microscope

Step 9

Under a microscope, dirt is removed from the pages individually.

Torn page

Step 10

Tears in the paper are mended with laboratory prepared wheat starch paste and thin, but strong, handmade tissue (torn page above).

Mended page

Step 11

(Mended page above).

Weight is applied to the pages

Step 12

Weight is then applied so the mends will dry flat.

Cleaned and mended pages

Step 13

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.

The pages are sewn back together

Step 14

When this book was made in the 18th century, the pages were sewn together. The old, but now mended, sewing holes are used again.

The pages are sewn back together

Step 15

Special linen thread is sewn through folds in the paper and looped around the cords to join the pages back together as a book.

Reattaching the covers to the Orderly Book

Step 16

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.

Original Orderly Book

Step 17

When the Orderly Book first arrived at the paper conservation laboratory, half of the front cover was missing.

Orderly Book after conservation

Step 18

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.

Browse the Harpers Ferry Center:

Browse the National Park Service: