Time and use caused Jefferson's volume to
become so fragile that the museum could no
longer make it available to researchers or the
public. Because the adhesive Jefferson used to
glue the clippings caused the paper to become
stiff and inflexible, the pages cracked and tore
as the book's equally inflexible binding was
opened. The goal of the conservation project
was to physically and chemically stabilize the
book and make it accessible once again.
Jefferson's book presented complex conservation problems. It contains twelve different types of paper, six printing inks, four manuscript inks, two adhesives, linen thread, silk thread and goatskin leather. A team of conservators conducted materials analysis, assessed the benefit versus risk of potential treatment options, and established documentation of the materials' current condition for future comparison.
To repair the artifact, the cover was removed intact. Jefferson's pages were physically stabilized with conservation repair tissue and reversible adhesives. High-resolution digital images were captured to ensure public access. The pages were rebound in the historic cover in a manner sympathetic to the original, but with slight modifications to prevent the same damage from recurring.
In addition to the generous support of our donors, the exhibition and conservation received assistance from several departments across the Institution. They include the National Museum of the American Indian, the Museum Conservation Institute, Smithsonian Institution Archives, and Smithsonian Institution Libraries.
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