Little Boxes in the Archives – a Photoblog

I am currently working on preserving a set of 22 scrapbooks from the Tuesday Musical Club from 1903 – 1941. The Tuesday Musical Club, founded 1889 and still active, started as a social and educational organization for “amateur” women musicians and music enthusiasts of Pittsburgh. Their members perform concerts, bring national musical acts to Pittsburgh, and provide scholarships for music students. Men were admitted starting in 1976. The scrapbooks themselves are a fascinating look at both the history of music in our region and a social history of women in American society. They are permanently housed in the William R. Oliver Special Collections Room.

Scrapbook3 The scrapbooks were meticulously put together by club members, and are in okay shape despite their age. This one is from 1911 – 1915. The club printed programs on beautifully embossed cardstock.

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Scrapbook1
I clean the pages with a special sponge and insert buffered acid-free interleaving tissue paper between the pages. Newspaper is especially acidic and non-archival. (Look! It’s a picture of Mr. Charles N. Boyd!)

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Scrapbook4When the scrapbook is ready, I make a custom fitted, archival, corrugated clamshell box. I learned how to make these as an intern at the Preservation Lab at Pitt. My technique was refined by our own in-house Preservation Department. These are all the tools I use.

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Scrapbook5I take measurements on a strip of cardboard. I have to be careful to get the right measurement for the thickness of the book, because it has many high and low spots.

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SB5I transfer the measurements to a piece of archival cardboard, using a jig (that small piece of cardboard that measures one, two, or three board-thicknesses), and a square (it’s called a square, but its a triangle).

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SB6I cut out the template.

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TMC19I score the lines, then fold the edges of the box.

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SB9The “fun” part – removing the inner layer of cardboard for the corners.

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scrappyI put a thin layer of glue on the flaps, and place it around the other edge to make a closed corner.

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sb10Here is the completed box. Each one takes me between fifteen and twenty minutes to make.

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sb11Volume 5 completed. Volume 6 up next.

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-Joelle

10 Comments

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10 responses to “Little Boxes in the Archives – a Photoblog

  1. Love the process pictures! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jackie

    Thanks for giving CP&A a plug! :) Nice job.
    –Jackie

  3. lizzy

    Agree. It’s nice to see the details of somebody’s meticulous work!

  4. Tara

    The box turned out beautifully! Nice work!

  5. This is really cool. How long will the newspaper last now that you have inserted the interleaving paper?

    • Joelle

      I don’t know how many years, perhaps 20 or 30 or more. It is stabilized for now and might get digitized sometime in the future.

  6. Very good job! I like the way you have things arranged…

  7. Great work! Will the collection be digitized?

    • Joelle

      Thanks! The library has many collections that are candidates for digitization. I don’t have a timeline on when this set of scrapbooks might get digitized.

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