Monthly Archives: July 2014
Since dogs are traditional hunting companions, it may not be surprising to find an embossed dog motif on this leather shot flask. Accession records indicate that this example was found near Raleigh during the Civil War. The North Carolina state dog—the Plott hound—is a renowned hunting breed. 5 years ago Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center produced an exhibition on the the Plott hound. This show continues to travel (most recently to last year’s Plott Fest) and could be a popular and low-cost option for educational programming at your site. The Center’s museum sales division produced this t-shirt for the exhibit and online merchandise.
In addition to hunting, dogs have filled other domestic roles. Perhaps this dog (above) alerted its owner when Fred Olds, founder of the NC Museum of History, visited the Cherokee reservation in 1908. As part of his basket-collecting mission, he had a photographer record this scene of “Aunt Lydia” Sands, whom he described as “the best woman fisher,” making fishing baskets on her porch. At the time of the photo, Sands’ dog “Surlagoochee” rested on the steps below. Dogs also provided affectionate companionship and could possibly (as in this advertising print above right) help with child rearing. Above left Governor Luther Hodges (1954-1961) pets his cocker spaniel.
Some craftsmen recreated dogs in objects ranging from decorative to whimsical. Woodcarver Jack Hall, who studied at the John C. Campbell Folk School, created this dog (left) in 1947. Annie Eaton Brower of Cary made dog cookies with this cutter (right), made by Moravian tinsmith G.A. Boozer in the mid 19th century. The retired proprietor of Hinshaw Yarns of Alamance County, Walter Hinshaw, fashioned the ornament below by sewing loops of machine braid together in the late 20th century.
For disaster recovery workshops, we’re following the lead of emergency responders by promoting START: simple triage and rapid treatment. However, while those professionals are focusing on human victims, our participants deal only with the much less urgent and less significant needs of artifacts.
Upon relocating the artifacts to a safe work area (using as limited and safe handling procedures as possible), the next step in recovering artifacts from a fire is triage. For our last workshop, we modified emergency responders’ START tags for artifacts.
- Green: Undamaged artifacts have usually been housed securely enough to protect them from soot. After careful inspection, these can be rehoused in clean containers for a return to storage with no treatment necessary.
- Yellow: these objects require simple treatment techniques before they can be packed up for long-term storage.
Conservators recommend a strict progressive cleaning procedure that begins with vacuuming and moves to soot sponging and then to wet-cleaning, if necessary and safe for the material. These techniques enacted quickly after the fire will guarantee the highest degree of soot removal for most objects.
- Air dry if necessary. Find a shady place if outside or use electric fans to promote air flow inside.
- Vacuum: conservators recommend vacuuming in place before relocating the object, but after a fire it is more likely that the contents of a burned structure will be removed before artifact recovery can begin. Brushes should not be used in the soot vacuuming process. If a nylon screen or old panty hose is available, it can be used to cover the nozzle only and should not be pressed against the object. If not, place a thumb on the edge of the nozzle as a bumper to space it a short distance from the object.
- Soot sponge: remember to use a dabbing motion, rather than rubbing, which will may grind the tiny soot particles into the object.
- Wet cleaning:
- Ethanol wipe/ dab for metals, also useful on glass and high-fired ceramics
- Squirt bottle rinse with weak detergent solution (select one with low levels of dyes and perfumes such as Palmolive free and clear.)
- Blot with damp cotton swabs or rags
- Avoid immersion but this may be necessary as a last resort
- Red: objects may be packed for relocation to a conservation studio right away, or they may go through the simple treatment techniques outlined above before going into this category.
- Black: objects that seem too damaged to recover or not enough of an institutional priority to warrant conservation costs go into the “morgue”—a holding area to await the formal deaccession process before disposal.
We’re working though this START system for artifacts in workshops and so far it’s been a useful approach. We plan to train our Cultural Resources Emergency Response Team (CREST) in its use for future actual disaster recoveries and will practice it again at our next fire recovery workshop in Greensboro.
State and local identity is key to the appeal of cultural heritage institutions. The forces of globalization and mechanization seem to push communities toward standardization. Yet, for most of us, our ties to specific places remain important and historic preservation and historic sites can serve as a kind of “antidote to anywhere,” helping localities maintain their distinctiveness. Often state, regional, and local identities depend upon boundaries, whether geological, cultural, or a mixture of both. In the past few years North Carolina and South Carolina have worked jointly to re-delineate their shared boundary, using new surveying techniques, like the global positioning system. Like all resurveys, the process involves hardships as well as surprises. (You can read more about the fascinating resurvey here.) It turns out that some people living on or near the border of the Carolinas are now undergoing an identity crisis, along with logistical hassles. And, though the revised-boundary residents are not always happy about it, North Carolina has begun to welcome most of them into our state’s fold.
The blurred line between the two states has been problematic before. For instance, both states claim the 7th U.S. president, Andrew Jackson, as a native son. The resurvey reaffirmed that his family home was in North Carolina, but the Andrew Jackson Historical State Park is in SC, on the site of a relative’s house where he may have actually been born. Prohibition presented another point of controversy, since NC became a dry state in 1908–8 years before Prohibition in SC. Stores near the state line dispensing alcohol in those years had financial incentive to be on the southern side of the border. The resulting questions may well have been the impetus for the first NC-SC border re-survey completed 1928.
Before the current GPS-fueled resurvey effort, surveyors marked boundaries by geological features. They blazed trees, carved rocks, and documented existing natural features such as rivers and ridges, as well as man-made ones like the Salisbury Road or the Catawba Nation. The North Carolina Museum of History and the South Carolina State Archives house artifacts that testify to both the initial 1735 colonial survey and the early 20th-century re-survey.
The two cross sections of a longleaf pine came from the border of NC’s Columbus County near Tabor City. The brass plate affixed to the surface reads: “Section of long leaf pine exposing blaze made A.D. 1735 marking N.C.-S.C. boundry [sic] discovered in re-survey A.D. 1928 standing alive, 34.07 miles from the Atlantic ocean” (See a better photo of SC’s specimen here) According NCMOH collections files, by the time of the 1928 resurvey Tabor City area residents knew the old pine as the “state line tree,” long after the original blazes had healed over. Based on this community knowledge, Surveyors investigated the claim and cut down the dying tree, sawed it into blocks, and split the blocks until they located an old blaze within the tree. Evidence from the tree rings corresponded to the original 1735 survey. It was one of only two original landmarks found that allowed the original line to be remarked. The investigators also found evidence that the tree survived forest fires, turpentine tapping, and re-blazing by local landowners once the original marks had been obscured by new growth. Tree ring data indicated the pine originated in approximately 1570. Surveyors placed a stone marker in its place (below left).
What’s next for the NC survey work? State commissioners will look toward the other “mountain of conceit” in 2015.
Does your collection contain artifacts dealing with the boundaries of the locality it represents? If so, how do they correspond to notions of community identity?
If scrapbooks are an important component of your collection and you’d like to learn more about their preservation, consider the NC Preservation Consortium’s workshops. An upcoming scrapbook workshop is on July 25th at Elon University and though registration is currently full, NCPC promises to schedule more on this needed topic. If you are not able to attend, online learning can offer some guidance. The American Library Association recently sponsored a free webinar on scrapbook preservation during 2014’s Preservation Week. You can access the recording here. Melissa Tedone, Conservator at Iowa State University Library, shared several helpful tips, including:
- Staples should be removed if possible when they are showing signs of corrosion/ rust. If they have been holding other items in place on a page, a loop of linen thread can replace their function safely.
- To help preserve acidic papers, whether newsclippings or scrapbook pages, now crumbling, interleave with acid-free, lignin-free bond paper, such as permalife. Lace or post bindings may need to be loosened before interleaving, as the additional paper will add bulk and stress a tight binding.
- “Magnetic” pages, popular in the 1970s, pose particular problems as a result of the material compositions of both the adhesive and the plastic film covering sheets. The plastic can be removed and replaced by interleaving with permalife sheets.
- If disassembling the album appears to be the best solution, thin metal spatulas can help pry photos off deteriorating adhesives. Waxed dental floss, used in a sawing motion, has also been effective for removing adhered items.
In addition to these kinds of preservation tips, NCPC workshops promise much more. Exhibition techniques, numbering methods, physical access measures, and best cataloging practices are a few of the areas workshop participants will be able to explore. Contact Executive Director, Robert James, if you would be interested in attending a future workshop on this topic.
As residents of one of the original thirteen colonies, many North Carolinians have celebrated and commemorated the involvement of their progenitors in the push for independence from England. Community leaders in the Coastal Plain as well as the back country resolved to fight for independence from the crown unless Parliament remedied colonial grievances. Disgruntled property holders in Mecklenburg County were the first to draft such a document in May 1775, though questions about this early revolutionary activity have lingered. Local leaders in New Hanover, Cumberland, Pitt, and Tryon counties soon followed suit in the summer of 1775 and later those in Halifax drafted an even more strongly worded petition in April 1776. Our state also boasts 3 representatives to the 1776 Continental Congress in Philadelpia. Read brief biographies of the North Carolina signers here.
Since the 1890s, at least, state residents have commemorated these events and heroes of the revolutionary era by paying homage to their houses, erecting monuments, and honoring their descendants. The Hooper-Penn monument at Guilford Battleground was created in 1897 upon re-interring the remains of John Penn of Granville County and William Hooper, who died in Hillsborough. (Hewes’ grave is in Philadelphia.)
A Fayetteville parade in 1909 celebrated the Liberty Point Resolves and included a float with young women, most of whom were descendants of the signers of that document. Nearly a decade later, the newly formed NC Museum of History collected objects from one of Hooper’s daughters (right). During the 1930s (at least) the town of Edenton organized a children’s pageant honoring Hewes.
Throughout the 20th-century and into the 21st, some NC businesses have featured the signers’ names to both commemorate and capitalize on patriotic sensibilities and local pride. The John Penn motel built in Oxford, NC in 1954 evoked Mt. Vernon with its white paint and cupola. Edenton Brewing Company (now Big Boss) of Raleigh once produced a “Joseph Hewes revolutionary ale.”
Does your collection include objects commemorating the pre-revolutionary resolves or the signers of the Declaration of Independence? If so, are these commemorative objects useful for exhibits or engaging to researchers?