the outset of this project a thorough conservation
assessment of the Adam White scrapbook was carried out by ROM Paper
Conservator Janet Cowan. This assessment determined
that the spine of the scrapbook was damaged and needed to be replaced,
the pages of were very dirty and required cleaning, and many of the plant
specimens had come loose. The loosened fragments needed
to be collected into packets and reaffixed to the scrapbook page they
came from. Most
of the pages of the scrapbook were in relatively good condition but the
edges of some had become frayed and were at risk of further damage.
Based on the conservation assessment the following steps were required
to restore the scrapbook and retard further deterioration: (a) surface
clean the pages,
(b) add interleaving tissues between the pages, (c) add ethafoam strips to
immobilize the book in its box, (d) repair the scrapbook’s damaged spine, (e) repair
superficial page tears. All of the conservation work except the spine repair,
was done in the ROM’s Paper Conservation Lab under the guidance of the
ROM’s Paper Conservator Janet Cowan.
Before the cleaning and repairs could begin it was necessary to record
the initial condition of the scrapbook photographically. Both
35mm and digital
were taken of each page. The 35mm photographs were made into a duplicate
set of slides, with one set residing in the ROM’s Conservation Department and
the other in the ROM’s Botany Department. The digital photographs were made using a Nikon E3200 digital camera, and were
transferred to a computer to allow the specimens to be studied and catalogued
without excessive handling of the scrapbook. Cataloguing involved documenting
each page with digital photographs, and databasing the information associated
with each artifact. Records from the catalogue were incorporated into the ROM
Green Plant Herbarium specimen database.
In order to safely and effectively clean the scrapbook it
was necessary to build a bookstand. The bookstand was designed and
out of wood and Plexiglas. The stand allowed work to be done on individual
pages without compromising the rest of the book. Since the scrapbook’s
spine was already damaged it was important to lessen the strain placed
upon it during
cleaning. The bookstand allowed the book to be positioned in such a way
as to greatly reduce the stresses on the spine and underlying specimens
while at the
same time providing a stable surface on which to work. Foam pads and heavy
lead blocks were also used to hold the book and stand in position.
Prior to cleaning, the specimen fragments were carefully removed
from the pages and placed in petrie dishes. The petrie dishes
were labeled with
number from which each fragment came. Paper packets were constructed
from an antique
white, lightweight, archival quality acid free paper. A paper was chosen
that would not look entirely out of place in a scrapbook from the mid
nineteenth century. The paper had to be of a colour and quality
so as not to distract
the viewer from the rest of the page. The packets were placed next to
from which the fragments they housed came. Each specimen was assigned
a TRT accession
number and the corresponding fragments and packets were labeled accordingly.
Determining the origin and identity of fragments was at times difficult.
With the help of Dr. Tim Dickinson and Deb Metsger all fragments were
Pages were individually cleaned using soft brushes and miniature
vacuums. Kneadable erasers were used to clean over a century’s worth of surface dirt. Frayed
edges and other minor page tears were mended using small strips of Japanese mulberry
paper and a starch paste.
The three-dimensional nature of the
specimens contained within the scrapbook presented some challenges.
The weight of the closed scrapbook
a considerable amount of pressure on the bulkier specimens and often
caused them to fragment.
The weight of the closed book also weakened the paper around particularly
robust specimens. Interleaving tissue, cut to a standard size of
was added to cushion the specimens and slow down the deterioration of the
Another cause of paper deterioration was acid migration.
The plant specimens in the scrapbook were more acidic than the paper
were placed on.
Acid from the plants was transferred to the paper by way of this
concentration difference. The acidification of paper not only causes
also weakens the structure
of the paper. The acid leached from the plants will, over time
the cellulose fibres in the paper and cause it to become brittle.
Specimens belonging to the Salicaceae family contain salicylic
acid, and were
to the integrity of the scrapbook. The effect of Salix
arctica could be seen as far away as six pages.
Acid free interleaving tissues
further deterioration through acid migration.
After cleaning an superficial repairs were completed the scrapbook
was sent off to a professional book conservator, Barbara Rosenburg,
and binding of the book.
When the book returned from the conservator final digital photographs
of the scrapbook pages were taken using a Nikon Coolpix 3.2 megapixel
and a copy stand. These photographs accurately document the scrapbook
as it exists today in its cleaned and stabilized state. The same
this web site in an effort to make the scrapbook more accessible.
its contents both photographically and as part of a database,
the scrapbook can be studied without excessive handling. Through
work, and the
creation of this website the scrapbook and the specimens it contains
will be available as a resource for many years to come.
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