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The Manor Hospital, Epsom: Conservation of a badly damaged casebook

Conservation of a badly damaged casebook - beforeThis haunting volume, containing case notes for the first male patients to be admitted to the Manor Hospital between 1899 and 1901 (Ref 6282/14/1), was one of the biggest challenges for the conservation team at Surrey History Centre. As with any document, the purpose of our work was to stabilise and rebuild the pages, so that it could be used by researchers, without causing any further harm and deterioration to this unique piece of history.

We began by testing the stability of the inks (to ensure they did not run), the paper fibre structure and the photographs of the male patients.  As the pages were badly stained by damp, we decided that they needed to be individually washed by floating in a bath of warm water. The missing areas of the pages were then repaired using high quality western papers made from the purest raw materials to ensure the highest standard of permanence, and strengthened by a fine tissue coated with a heat-activated adhesive.

Preserving documents for the future

Conservation of a badly damaged casebook - afterThe conservations team always ensures that any repair is clearly visible, so that there is no doubt as to which parts of a document are original and which are new. We only do what is strictly necessary to repair and stabilise records and use carefully selected materials. A key area of our work is keeping an eye on developments in the science of archive conservation and new repair techniques.

By such means we ensure the permanent preservation of records in our care so that the information they contain can be made available to the public both now and in the future.

Our conservators are Catherine Carey and Jeff Dowse who are always happy to provide advice on caring for your records.  Telephone 01483 518737 and ask to speak to one of them.

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