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Conserving the Samuel Hartt Pook Papers

These documents outline, firsthand, the career of Naval Architect Samuel Hartt Pook. These historic papers highlight one of the most significant advancements in American Naval history. At the onset of the Civil War, Pook and his father (also a naval architect) aided the transition of the US fleet from wooden to iron and steel-hulled warships.

When Pook’s old scrapbook was generously donated to us in 2016, it was full of tears, mold, and missing both covers. Our team has lovingly spent over 250 hours conserving these papers. They’ve removed mold and residual acidic binding adhesive, re-sized severely mold-eaten areas, and mended tears and losses. The final steps in treatment were sleeving each document and rebinding them.

In this video, you can see our Library and Archival Materials Conservator Emilie Duncan preparing the papers for binding. She is encapsulating the papers between sheets of polyester film using our ultrasonic welder (which was gifted to the Museum by The Bronze Door Society). The film protects and supports the papers during handling and buffers them from rapid swings in environmental conditions.

Being able to provide the rich context of Pook’s papers to the world is such a gift!

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