Johnson County Historical Society Category

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Johnson County Record Books

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We have conserved a number of record books from the Flood of 2008 for the Johnson County Historical Society.  Most of them have been pretty straight forward in the treatment that was needed.  We were so close to being finished with all of the record books when we came across a record book that hadn’t been sewn, but needed to be rebound.

This meant we needed to double-fan or perfect bind the book.  This process uses adhesive to keep all the pages together.  It is the process used to bind most paperback books on the market today.  It is a fairly simple process but the sheer size of the record book made it a little difficult.

The record book all glued up.

The record book all glued up.

The record book in question is 18″ tall, 12″ wide and 3″ thick, too big to fit into any of our lying presses! Bill and I jogged the textblock together and using all four of our hands clamped the book together.  I then glued the textblock together and lined the spine.  We could then move onto casing the book in.

The record book rebound

The record book rebound

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Good-bye Caitlin, Hello Kathleen

Kathleen Tandy working

New Flood Recovery Conservation Technician Tandy Working

Good-bye Caitlin, Hello Kathleen

Caitlin Moore, our Flood Recovery Conservation Technician, is moving on to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.  We are sad to see her go but are so thankful for all the work she has done for the past three years. Good Luck, Caitlin!

We welcome Kathleen Tandy to fill Caitlin’s position as the Flood Recovery Conservation Technician. Kathleen comes to us from the State Historical Society of Iowa where she was working on conserving Civil War Muster Rolls for the State of Iowa.  Welcome Kathleen!

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JCHS return!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finally sending some ledgers home!! Leigh Ann Randak came to the Conservation Lab today to pick up 42 finished ledgers and the completed collection of re-boxed court dockets!!

This means we are nearly half way through the ledger project and that we’re making progress! Many of these projects are so long that it is hard to gauge our progress so when we can send things back to their museums it is very satisfying. The ledgers are mainly record books from the Johnson County Historical Society. Many of these books are enormous and in addition to the satisfaction of having them finished, it will be helpful to have the extra space. Now we just have to get those LP’s sent home.

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Yet another workflow…

Sunday, July 19, 2009

stack of flattened books next to one not yet flattened This weekend I’ve started working with the Johnson County Historical Society book collection. So far they have required some dry cleaning, mending and flattening. I’ve been using the vacuum packer to flatten them which has been very effective and is really fun to watch. The damage is similar to that of the ledgers but since the books are smaller it goes a little faster. We still have a yearbook collection and the rest of the ledgers to do so I’m not going to run out of books anytime soon!

vacuum pack machine book encased in plastic after vacuum packing

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Material Instability and Other Woes

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


We have encountered every problem in the book (no pun intended) while treating these ledgers for the Johnson County Historical Society. These two pictures of the same ledger are good examples. The structure of the book was sound. It needed a little bit of cosmetic repair and hinge repair. The inside is a different story. Almost all the pages are illegible, the ink has run and bled obscuring most of the text in the ledger.

In the front of the ledger was taped a small pamphlet. It was in relatively good shape. When it
got wet in the flood some of the dye from the orange paper transferred to the pages around it. I dry cleaned it, removed the staples and took off the tape with a heat spatula and vinyl eraser.

The tape left in the ledger I did not remove because it would have made a mess of the paper trying to scrape and melt it off. While it is not ideal to have tape in the book, as it gets older the tape will become brittle and flake away doing far less damage.

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Repairing Ledgers One at a Time

Monday, July 6, 2009

There are several different types of ledgers from the Johnson County Historical Society. This ledger was completely detached from the covers, but the case was intact. The spine and corner pieces were in good shape but the cover cloth was warped and bunched.

I began with the text block. I tipped in some pages that had become detached and then put the ledger in the job backer to re-form the round of the spine. It’s not hard to do with these books since they are so used to being rounded they just need a little coaxing. When I got the spine into the position I wanted it I used wheat paste to line the spine with a piece of kozo, a thin japanese paper which I stippled on with a stiff brush. While that dried I used a piece of kozo and wheat paste to reinforce the spine inside the cover, carrying it across onto the boards to give the hinge area more strength. I added new black cloth to the covers to “pretty them up” and set it under weight to dry. When the spine of the text block was dry, I added a cambric (cloth) lining with flanges overhanging each side of the spine about an inch. When that was dry I put the text block back into the original cover using pva to put down the cambric onto the japanese paper lining inside the cover. I then pasted the original paste-downs to the cover using wheat paste. When the whole thing was put together I placed it in between press boards and put it in the job backer so it would dry in the right shape.

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Peeling The Smells Away

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This ledger from the Johnson County Historical Society was in bad shape. The boards were warped, the spine piece had come detached, and the covers were almost completely off but for one small area. The covers were so far gone I decided to replace them altogether. I kept the cloth from the front board so I could attach the title to the front of the new case.

The board that most of the covers are made of was excellent at sopping up all kinds of flood goo and smells absolutely horrible. When we
can, we keep the original covers but in a situation like this it made more sense to completely rebind the ledger. Since we didn’t need to keep the cover boards I was able to peel the layers away from the areas of the page that didn’t release easily, without risk of tearing the paste-downs.

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Volunteer Dawn Completes Docket Project

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One of our volunteers, Dawn Wellington, has been working on a project re-ordering and re-housing a collection of court dockets for the Johnson County Historical Society. She went through hundreds of dockets and put them back in order and into new document boxes. When she finished, we had Leigh Ann Randak, the curator of the historical society come down to meet Dawn and check out our progress on that as well as other projects in the works. Our volunteers have been invaluable for projects like this one. It’s so satisfying to have one more thing to check off the list!

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Leigh Ann Inspects Proposed Conservation Work

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our close proximity to the museums we are working with gives us the advantage of easy communication with their curators. Leigh Ann Randak of the Johnson County Historical Society was able to come down to see how our Head Conservator, Gary Frost, was coming along with the ledgers and county registers he had been working on. Being able to see what is being done gave her a better idea of how long things would take and how complicated the process would be. When figuring out how much money you have relative to saving a collection it makes all the difference to know exactly what is being done and to have the option to say, “this book wiill take 6 hours to fix and it’s not worth the money when we could replace it and save three others in that time for that amount of money”. Leigh Ann has been able to come down multiple times to go through the books and manuscripts to decide what we should work on and what can be replaced or let go.

The ledger shown in this photograph was already taken apart and was in loose sheets when we got it. Gary used the “double fan” method to bind the pages together using a very thin layer of adhesive on the spine before re-casing it into a new buckram cover. 

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Leigh Ann Randak Visits

Monday, November 10, 2008

Leigh Ann from the Johnson County Historical Society came to sort through the books that were freeze-dried and then stored at the UI Main Library –to see what we had here and take away anything she needed, or didn’t need us to work on. Since the boxes are stacked to the ceiling and take up the entire room, we moved into the hall to unpack the boxes and resort them. Caitlin and I repacked and took notes. There are several City High year books–and I found photos of my father-in-law. There are Iowa State Registers (“red books”) that may be able to be replaced easily. After we marked all the boxes, we stacked them up again. Leigh Ann left with as much as could fit in her car. We agreed that Gary would develop treatment strategies for the larger bound books. Although we were prepared with gloves and masks, in the picture I am wearing my mask on the back of my head–the smell is mostly dissipated, and we were relabeling boxes in the hall.