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Wednesday, May 31 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
009. (Book and Paper) Election Cake and Tea Cookies: The Conservation of Historic Cherry Hill’s Receipt Book Collection

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Historic Cherry Hill is a non-profit museum in Albany, New York. It consists of the residence and many of the belongings of the Van Rensselaer family. The recipe books were kept by five generations of the women of the household and is made up of twenty manuscript volumes and collected manuscripts and printed newspaper clippings. They contain recipes for food, medicines, and household products from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries. These volumes are of particular interest to food historians. Access to these items was severely limited because of their condition. The institution sought and received grant funding for conservation treatment. Much of the information in the books was obscured by excessive tearing, sewing that prevented pages to be fully opened, and clippings that had been pinned to the pages. The museum’s curator felt it intrinsic to the research value of the collection that the books remain as close to their original state as possible. My challenge in conserving these volumes was to give researchers access to all manuscript text while maintaining as much of the original structure and placement as possible. Treatment decisions were made in close collaboration with the curator. Torn pages were pieced together and mended with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. The metal straight pins were removed and clippings were hinged in place so that the underlying text can be revealed without damage to the clippings. The many over sized clippings were clearly marked with their original placement and stored in separate folders, as were any that were printed on acidic paper. Bindings were repaired or replaced where missing. Each volume was evaluated individually to decide when to leave clippings in place and when to remove them entirely. One volume was a repurposed account book. The manuscript text was obscured by clippings of recipes and information about gardening. These clippings were left in place, given the relevance to the subject of the collection and the scant amount of writing underneath. A second repurposed volume is a journal with by entries by one of the women of the family, about twenty pages at the end of the volume. The clippings covering this text came off to reveal academic notes on astronomy, including diagrams of stars and planets. We still wanted to be able to recreate the journal as it was used as a recipe book. The removed clippings were placed in mylar sleeves and can be laid on top of the page they came from, thus recreating how the page looked as it was used as a recipe book. The earliest two volumes, which are of greatest research interest and were in the worst state, were digitally scanned after mending and before rebinding. These are now digitally accessible, and all twenty volumes are now available to researchers. Historic Cherry Hill has published some of the recipes from this collection.

Speaker(s)
avatar for Samantha Couture, [PA]

Samantha Couture, [PA]

Conservator, Flyleaf Bindery
Samantha Couture has 22 years of experience in book and paper conservation. She received her early training on the conservation staff of the Cornell University Library, where she performed a variety of book and paper treatments on rare materials from the French Revolution and Icelandic collections. She has worked in the the paper lab of... Read More →


Wednesday May 31, 2017 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Riverside West Exhibit Hall Exhibit Level, East Tower

Attendees (46)