Northeast Document Conservation Center is featured in the science section of the Boston Globe. The article features book conservator MP Bogan and a recent treatment of Robert Frost’s attendance register.
Here is an excerpt:
To properly treat the Frost register, a conservator first surface-cleaned the pages and unbound the book. The pages were alkalized for protection, and tears were carefully mended using a special Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. Next, digital photos were taken of each page. The pages were then reassembled, sewn with linen thread, and rebound in a cloth binding.
Senior book conservator M.P. Bogan put 22 hours into the project, which was – as with all preservation work at the center – done completely by hand. Bogan says items such as the Frost register hold a particular interest for her.
“What I like about working on projects like this is that it’s a working, one-of-a-kind document,” she says. “There’s only one in existence.”
Bogan and her fellow conservators work in the paper lab section of the center, which resembles an art studio. Some of the hand tools look as old as the documents on which they are used. Across the hall is the more modern digital lab, where photographic images are captured of the often centuries-old items. The process requires knowledge in several areas.
“The staff who work in the lab are not only conservators, but also artists and chemists,” says [Julie] Martin. “They need all of that background in addition to the skills to do the job.”
With its preservation process complete, the Frost register will return to Methuen in a custom-fit box for extra protection. The conservators will already be hard at work on other projects, and a piece of local history will be saved for generations to come.