Caring for Yale Library’s Albums and Scrapbooks

Rare Book Conservation Technicians Ansley Joe (left) and Karen Jutzi working in the Gates Conservation Laboratory

The Yale University Library’s special collections contain hundreds of photograph albums and scrapbooks related to famous and not-so-famous individuals. Archives of writers and artists often include sketchbooks and notebooks with various papers, printed ephemera, and newspaper clippings. Conserving the Library’s albums and scrapbooks is a complex and time-consuming process. Decisions about treatment must be informed not only by the nature of the materials used or affixed, but by the intentions of the creator. The associations or arrangement of the contents may be more important to preserve than the individual components. Historical album or scrapbook pages, especially those made from black construction paper and brown kraft paper, are highly acidic. Writing, annotations, or drawing on these pages may be significant to retain with the content adhered or attached to the page.

Conservation of Albums and Scrapbooks

Stabilizing repairs can sometimes be made to the binding structure and support pages. Spacers may be added to the spine to compensate for overstuffed contents. This scrapbook from the Yale Collection of American Literature was treated by Karen Jutzi, one of our rare book technicians. Her work was coordinated with photographers who digitized the scrapbook.

Before Treatment

After Treatment

The album’s new binding opens well and allows individual leaves to be removed for exhibition.

This rare 18th-century print seller’s album from the Lewis Walpole Library, pictured above, required over 200 hours of active conservation work. The conservator cleaned and removed mold from all 46 album leaves and 166 prints. She also constructed a non-adhesive new binding that opens well and allows individual leaves to be removed for study or exhibition.

Book and Manuscript Conservator Laura O’Brien-Miller working in a fume hood to remove mold from the surfaces of the album and prints

Prev Next