Happy Anniversary, Yale! First volume of the Minutes of The Corporation conserved for Posterity

“Three hundred and thirteen years ago, on October 9, 1701, the General Court of the Connecticut Colony, meeting in New Haven, adopted an “Act for Liberty to Erect A Collegiate School,” laying the foundation for what has become the Yale we know today.” President Peter Salovey, Yale University.

Just as President Peter Salovey was sending out his anniversary message to the Yale community yesterday (October 9), Conservation & Exhibition Services was delivering the conserved first volume of the Minutes of the Corporation, Yale College Register vol.1 1701-1704 & 1717-1800 back to archivist Nancy Lyon of the Library’s Manuscript & Archives Department. The Library’s conservation lab oversaw treatment of this important artifact of Yale’s early history. The work took 6 months to complete and purely by happenstance, the volume was ready to return to its place in Yale’s Library on the same day as Yale’s founding and 313th anniversary!

Typical of books bound in reverse calf, the surface of the binding was powdery and difficult to handle. The outer and inner hinges had failed and the boards were detached. The spine leather was cracked resulting in some small areas of loss. A handmade box helped to protect the volume from further damage. The condition of this bound manuscript was exactly what a conservator might expect of a binding of this style and age, but this is no ordinary volume.

The treatment work was carried out by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC). Yale Library staff worked closely with them to develop the treatment plan that would ensure the best care for the object. The pages of the volume were surface cleaned, previous damaging mends were removed and tears were repaired using reversible methods and Japanese tissue. The binding was treated to consolidate the powdery leather. The spine and boards were reattached with materials toned to match the color of the leather. Click here to learn more about the details and view images of the project.

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