December 13th

Today I unveiled some of my previous work on the C.C. Cody envelope. The envelope had a large lacuna (meaning hole or pit) in the middle of the document that needed to be filled along with other tears near this lacuna. Getting things lined up and then mended while keeping things still was a bit of a challenge, but it came out nicely I think.



My next few repairs will be this grouping of tiny cracks at the top of the envelope. I want to be sure I don’t just put a large amount of Japanese tissue over this grouping, but take time to put on *just what is needed*. Many of the cracks are connected also. I also have to figure out how to complete the missing sloping corner.


I am using new tools today that I somehow overlooked in the lab. They are what I think are dental tools (I’ve heard of these being used in book repair) and they have really helped today. I can lift cracks in the paper with much precision and care to see if the cracks are beveled or if they need tissue. I was trying to do this with my pinkie fingernail, and the paper is so fragile that it was risky. I was so glad to discover these tools that I stabbed myself in the wrist – they are SHARP!


If you are an SU student and are interested in seeing or talking about anything that this blog addresses and you are in the Smith Library, you can come by Special Collections on Fridays between 2 and 4 pm and ask for Anne (I’m in a room around the corner from the office). You don’t really have to have questions either – if you’re just interested in seeing some of this stuff, stop by!

November 22 and December 6th

So today I’m working on something belonging to Southwestern’s own C.C. Cody. If you’re wondering generally who he is, To Survive and Excel: The Story of Southwestern University, written by William B. Jones, states that Dean Claude Carr Cody came to Southwestern as professor of mathematics in 1878. He was named the first academic dean in 1907 and was one of the most beloved teachers in Southwestern history. He was the leader of the anti-removal forces in 1910-11. Photograph from Special Collections.

An exhibit outside Special Collections displays some of the records and receipts that he retained from his visit to Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. Click here to read more about Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium, and stop by Special Collections to see the C.C. Cody’s “Trip To Wellville” exhibit.

The envelope I’m working on, dated 1914, is from this exhibit, and it needed some help. First we “washed” it. “Washing” a document entails putting it in a bath of distilled water in a stainless steel tray, and letting it soak for a short time. This process not only partially cleans the paper, but also strengthens it by making the fibers swell up with water. When dried, the paper is slightly fluffier than before and the fibers have melded together better than before. Because it was an envelope, we also had to accept that anywhere that there was old glue holding the envelope together was going to wash away. Here is what it looked like in the water bath.


The envelope was carefully removed from the water bath – wet paper is very fragile! – and placed on a supportive piece of glass, layered on top of blotting paper and spun polyester. Blotting paper, for those who don’t know, it an absorbent white paper that is used to wick moisture out of something. Spun polyester is fine polyester that is layered anywhere there might be glue or paste, as glue or paste won’t stick to the polyester. Can you imagine placing a sticky old envelope right on top of blotting paper, and you come back when it’s nice and flat and dry only to find that it is glued to the blotting paper? Here is a picture of the front of the envelope after being pressed dry.


After the envelope was very flat and dry, the tissue mending began. The below picture is of the beveled edge of a tear. This kind of tear doesn’t need Japanese tissue – it can be repaired by using paste on the overlapping beveled edges. This close up of a beveled tear shows the darker and lighter aspects of a tear of this kind.


Some of the tears on this envelope are very long, and it is a challenge to match a piece of Japanese tissue to the curvy line of a long tear. This picture shows a piece of tissue laying over a tear before the paste is applied and the mend is laid.