Leslie Wyman, Managing Director of the White River Valley Historical Society, recently spent a full day training in the Missouri State Archives Conservation Lab in Jefferson City.

During the day, Conservators Lisa Fox, Diane McKinney, and Sandy Hempe provided Wyman with hands-on lessons in a variety of methods of document conservation, including dry-cleaning, humidification, flattening/pressing, and mending. The documents used throughout the training were three of the WRVHS’s certificates in dire need of help—a 1918 diploma, 1922 diploma, and 1868 arrest warrant.

dry-cleaning a diploma

Diane McKinney, right, Missouri State Archives Conservator, assists WRVHS Managing Director Leslie Wyman as she prepares to dry-clean a 1922 Forsyth High School diploma.

“Archival preservation is an area we’ve been focusing much of our time on lately, and has been something we’ve particularly needed guidance on,” explained Wyman. “As our research library and collection holdings continue to grow, we have a very large assortment of documents and photographs, including the extensive Jerry and Opal Gideon Family Collection. Many of the documents come to us in need of some care, and now we’ll be able to maintain them properly. This was a perfect time to learn these skills, as the grant we received early this year for our “Archival Collection Care 2013” project from the Missouri Historical Records Grant Program[*] provided us with the storage containers and shelving needed to safely house the items. As we continue working with the collections, we can assess their needs and care for them before putting them away.”

“As the designated sole source provider with Taney County’s many archives, we plan to determine their conservation needs and develop a plan for future hands-on care of many of their documents as well,” Wyman continued. “The experience of working with Lisa, Diane, and Sandy was invaluable, and I could hardly wait to get back home and begin taking care of our items! In fact, my first day back, I dry-cleaned Taney County’s original coroner’s inquest for Nat Kinney (leader of the Bald Knobbers vigilante group)—one small step to preserving a historically-significant document so it will be legible for others for years to come.”

“Partnerships with local records repositories like the White River Valley Historical Society are essential to the Missouri State Archives and the Local Records Program,” said State Archivist John Dougan. “They are a tremendous asset in fulfilling our mission to preserve, manage and provide access to the state’s most important historical records.”