Archive for March, 2013

-Contributed by Allison Howell.

In this CHP blog posting, practicum student Allison Howell provides a lesson in archival encapsulation and gives an inside look at preserving a century-old scrapbook. 

What’s the difference between preservation and conservation?

According to Standing Conference on Archives and Museums, or SCAM (which, ironically, is fact-based), preservation is an “action taken to prevent damage [from] occurring”. Conservation, on the other hand, “aims to prevent [the] continuation of damage that has already occurred by halting the process with minimal intervention” (http://www.archivesandmuseums.org.uk/scam/infosheet3.htm) In the case of Edgar A. Doll’s scrapbook, I performed preservation (i.e. stabilizing the scrapbook by encapsulating it), not conservation (i.e. repairing tears, rebinding the volume, etc.).

The first step in the preservation process is digitization. Although digitization does not do anything to prevent damage to the physical scrapbook, it provides CHP and its researchers with a record of how the scrapbook looksTODAY. This is especially helpful if a researcher requests the volume fifty years from now and finds that some of the photos have faded or have become damaged. If damage has occurred, the researcher will be able to access the digital records and see how the photos looked when they were digitized.

When digitizing the Doll scrapbook, I used two computers and two scanners to digitize each page as both a JPG and a TIFF. By splitting the digitization process, I was able to digitize the entire scrapbook fairly quickly. In order to keep the pages in their original sequence as I scanned, I wrote the page numbers down on post-it notes positioned in front of the scanners (see below).


During the digitization process, I kept the scrapbook pages in three separate piles. The pile on the far left contained the pages that had been fully digitized, the pile in the middle contained the pages that were still waiting to be digitized, and, finally, the page on the right was in the process of having all of the names present on either of its sides entered into an Excel spreadsheet for later reference.

Once the entire scrapbook was digitized, I used mylar to encapsulate each page. Encapsulation protects archival materials and is entirely reversible, unlike lamination. (Lamination is harmful for numerous reasons, but the biggest issues are that it 1) sticks to the archival material and does not allow for separation and 2) subjects the archival material to high heat during the lamination process. For those unfamiliar with archival processes, stickiness and heat are two things that should be avoided at all cost!)


Mylar comes on an enormous roll, which allows it to be cut to any size. It is perfectly clear, allowing for the archival material inside to be easily seen.


At CHP, mylar is cut to twice the width of the material. This way, only the top and bottom edges need closed. The right edge is a folded edge (see above) and the left remains open for air circulation and access. The folded edge needs pressed with a bone tool, which provides a crisp crease.


Once the mylar has been folded, the archival material (or scrapbook page, in this case) should be tucked into the fold as much as possible. This helps to prevent the page from sliding around inside its mylar housing.


After the archival material is secure in the fold, double-sided, archival-quality tape is used on both the upper and lower edge. As a general rule, the edge that remains un-taped (or open) should be one of the short edges. This allows for more stability of the archival material’s longer sides.


Once the tape is in place and the backing has been removed, both sides of the encapsulation packet should be pressed together to secure the seal.


In order to make the packet presentable and easier to store, the rough edges of the packet should be trimmed. Taped edges should be cut at least ½ inch from the outside of the tape edge. The open edge should be trimmed at least 1 inch from the archival material, and, of course, the folded edge should remain untouched.


At this point, the packet is complete and is stable enough to be handled.


Encapsulation projects involving numerous pages or sheets should be numbered to maintain their original order. Page numbers should always be marked on the outside of the mylar, never on the inside or the archival material itself.


In the case of the Doll scrapbook, 38 pages of photographs were encapsulated as well as the front and back covers, two loose images, and all of the blank scrapbook pages. Shown above are the first four pages in their encapsulation packets.

Now that the scrapbook has been discovered, digitized, and encapsulated, what happens next? Stay tuned!

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-Contributed by Allison Howell.

Allison is a graduate student in Library and Information Science at Kent State University. She is completing her practicum at the CHP, creating descriptive metadata for the Still Images collection. In addition, she is researching, preserving and digitizing an early 1900s scrapbook created by Edgar Doll during his time at the Vineland Training School. Here, she describes her experience working with the Doll scrapbook.

When I was little – and more so now, I have to admit – I wanted to savor Christmas gifts. I always tried to prolong the experience, pushing the opening until the very last moment, allowing the sweet flavor of anticipation to ride as long as it could. (However, after this act once brought my mother to tears, I generally open gifts as soon as she hands them to me nowadays.)  This past Christmas, when my husband wanted to have Christmas on December 20th because he couldn’t wait any longer, I dug my heels in and protested that Christmas is held on Christmas for a reason!

Well, today, at CHP, it was Christmas, and I had one glorious box to open.

Unopened Box

Like some Christmas gifts, I already had an inkling about what the box contained: Not a popcorn popper or a Settlers of Catan expansion pack (both of which already grace my list for this year), but a scrapbook and other documents pertaining to Edgar A. Doll and the Training School at Vineland in New Jersey.

Scrapbook On Top

Contents 1

Some of items I found inside were equivalent to the Christmas sweaters knitted by Grandma: Nice to have (especially for researchers looking for information about Vineland or Doll), but only useful when they fit. (In my case, some items just did not pertain to my specific project, which is perfectly okay. Sometimes that happens.)

One of these items included a set of three steno books, which, when opened, revealed actual shorthand illegible to ex-education majors like me.

Steno 2 Steno 1

Another such item was a large set patient files. Though these records will be helpful to researchers (if and when they are opened to the public), they are much newer than the photos in the scrapbook.

Patient Files

However, some of the items in the box fit perfectly. The book Twenty-Five Years: The Vineland Laboratory 1906 – 1931 (of which there were three copies in the box) may be especially helpful when trying to research scrapbook photos from that period.

Text 3

Likewise is an envelope of older photos, several captioned with the names of the individuals depicted.

Envelope 2

The “gift” that provided the most Christmas merriment, however, was the scrapbook itself. Though it is worn and tattered…

Scrapbook 1

…its pages are filled with photographs and captions…

Scrapbook 3

Scrapbook 4

Scrapbook 6

…that will help me gather information about the scrapbook itself and about the early years of both the research facility at Vineland and Doll’s tenure as Research Psychologist and Director of Research at the school. In this way, I will be able to help transform the book from a volume of anonymous faces into a codex of information available in-house for researchers.

Before that research begins, however, the scrapbook must be preserved in order to protect its fragile contents, and it is this preservation that will be the focus of my next blog entry. Stay posted!

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-Contributed by Stephanie Cameron.

March’s Book of the Month selection is probably familiar to most people.  As one of the world’s most debated books, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection has been discussed by scholars, theologians, and society at large.  The CHP’s copy of On the Origin of Species was digitized in partnership with the American Psychological Association.

The title page of the CHP’s rare 1860 print of On the Origin of Species.

The title page of the CHP’s rare 1860 print of On the Origin of Species.

First published in 1859, this groundbreaking work described the natural world as one characterized by adaptation and gradual change occurring as  a result of natural selection over time.  The book captured the attention of scientists, philosophers, and the general public in the 19th century, and discussion regarding Origin continues today.

The first edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species sold out almost instantaneously.  As a result, the book was revised and 3,000 copies were reissued in 1860.  The CHP has one of the 1860 prints.  This particular work is an invaluable addition to the CHP’s book collection and appears to have been widely used.  It was so important to the historical record and also so well-used that it made a good candidate for repair through an IMLS American Heritage preservation grant.

n the Origin of Species had significant damage to the spine.

On the Origin of Species had significant damage to the spine.

After conservation treatment by the Intermuseum Conservation Association in 2010.

After conservation treatment by the Intermuseum Conservation Association in 2010.

The inside cover of the book contains an inscription from Secretary I. P. Allen: [“Darwin on Species: One calendar month allowed for reading”].  Additionally, it contains what appears to be a tour schedule for a possible lecture or seminar series.

 The inside cover of On the Origin of Species contains handwritten instructions and an agenda.

The inside cover of On the Origin of Species contains handwritten instructions and an agenda.

Questions for discussion: Any thoughts on what the schedule on the inside cover is? What impact has On the Origin of Species had on science?  On society?

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