P1020131 copy A map from the WO95 series before conservation

In April 2015 I started a new job at The National Archives as a project conservator for the commercial delivery team. This position is quite different from any other conservation job I have had to date due to the fast paced nature of the projects I am involved with. My role is to conserve papered documents which need to be stabilised before undergoing digitalisation.  The conservation treatments do not need to be long lasting or particularly sympathetic but need to keep a document intact and flat for the cameras. Despite the fast paced nature of our work ethical guidelines and conservation standards are still strictly adhered to and the conservation treatments are undertaken with skill and precision at all times. One of the main treatments undertaken is the repair of large tears that have the potential to lengthen or cause detachments. For this a gelatine remoistenable tissue has been adopted from an article by Bas Van Velsen (Journal of Paper Conservation Vol.12). The tissue is made in large batches on to polyester film and activated using a damp blotter, which sits on a wet sponge. Using this method a conservator can repair documents extremely quickly as the remoistenable tissue takes seconds to dry after the initial application. My first project within the team has been a large series called WO95 (War Office). This series consists of war diaries for British and colonial units serving in theatres of operations between 1914 and 1922, including Russia, at home, and in the colonies, and British military missions, and Armies of Occupation between 1919 and 1922.  The diaries contain daily reports on operations, intelligence summaries, and other pertinent material.

P1020138      Activating the remoistenable tissue using damp blotters

P1020141Using a teflon bonefolder to set the repair tissue in place.

This series consists of maps, photographs, photostats, transparent papers/maps, pamphlets, and a variety of paper substrates, inks and stamps. All of the documents in this series should be legible for readers, and so documents should be flattened, repaired, and in some cases surface cleaned. Documents that are stuck together (usually in the top left corner) using adhesive, staples or thread should be separated where possible and placed in chronological order before being digitised.

P1020145               A map from the WO95 series after conservation