Shiver in the Lab!
As treatments go, this one took me by surprise. I'd examined the object – a memoir of the Civil War experiences of Captain Charles Brouse. Compiled a few years after the war, Brouse wrote on the pages of a common tablet of paper called "The Plentiful." Most of the pages were loose from the glue binding. The sheets were mechanically ruled in blue ink that was water soluble. He wrote in pencil on each line of every sheet, which were now dark yellow, acidic and crumbling at the slightest movement.
The first few pages were especially torn. The front cover was split horizontally in two pieces. I'd selected the thinnest mending tissue possible for mending the tears to avoid placing more stress on the paper. The tissue, coated with a faint layer of dried paste, only needs to be touched to a moist blotter to reactivate it and then put in place over each tear.
Let me just interject here. I never take time to actually read an item on my bench in the lab – not much beyond the identifying title, date, signatures and random notes. If I did, I'd never get any actual work done. But when I realized the loose sheets had no page numbers mechanically printed or entered by the captain, I got queasy. I was already mending page five, and I wanted to make sure the pages were in order or stayed in order, so I had to start reading somewhere. I started at the top of the page I was working on.
What followed next was one of those out of body experiences that start with a picture of the earth as a blue marble in space. The next few seconds the earth zooms forward at such speed it is difficult to process what you're looking at until clouds pass, buildings pitch by, and everything stops at the street or a bug.
“O'Neal – situate just north of North St and west of the Canal and bounded on the west by West Street in Indianapolis”
Oh, wow! The camp was located ... where I was ... standing. Where I was STANDING ... smack dab on the canal where our lab is located!
Well ... shiver.
I stopped reading. I collected myself. Thought about the camp, the soldiers, the few names I'd read.
And I started mending again. No wonder I don't read anything on my bench. How am I supposed to get anything done with all that going on around me 155 years ago?
I am still mending the memoir of Captain Brouse – I don't get to work on it every day, but I am down to the final few pages. I wound up keeping the pages in the exact order. When it is digitized, we can check the images for page order.
|Ramona Duncan-Huse is senior director of Conservation at IHS. She enjoys all the "stuff" of life – family, gardening, art and the family dog, Daisy. Despite being labeled by her son as "born in the 1860s" (instead of 1960s), they share a favorite song: "Time of the Season’" by the Zombies.|