It’s a Dirty Job, But Somebody Loves to Do it!

Cleaning is rarely on the top of anyone’s list of favorite things to do, but it is a necessary part of our existence. In the archives, cleaning is particularly important for preservation of the collections. Dirt and dust can settle on photographs and scratch or become embedded in the emulsion or top paper fibers of the image. Handling bound volumes covered with a layer of dust and then opening to the pages, can easily result in dirty fingerprints transferred onto pages. Dirt and dust can also attract pests and be carriers for air pollutants and mold spores. In short, cleaning not only helps combat the stereotype of dusty archives and makes us feel neater, it is an important part of preventive action in preservation.

This summer we were fortunate to have Karis Raeburn, a new graduate of the Public History Program at Wright State, volunteer her professional skills to us. As luck would have it, Karis has experience cleaning rare books and ledgers at the Tower of London. On top of that, Karis said words I never thought I would hear in the archives, “I LOVE to clean books!”

Among other projects, Karis worked on researching, cleaning and rehousing collections of general store ledgers dating back to the late 1800s to early 1900s. A HEPA vacuum with variable speed control is used to capture the dirt and dust that is swept off with a soft brush. Vulcanized rubber sponges are used in cleaning other areas of the ledgers.  When cleaning books, it is important not to brush too hard, which can actually push the dirt deeper into the material. It is also important to clean the text block (edges of a closed book’s pages) while the ledger is tightly closed, and brush away from the spine.

Karis Raeburn cleaning a general store ledger from the 1800s

Karis Raeburn cleaning a general store ledger from the 1800s

Since dust and dirt can also harbor inside, the pages are swept clean with a soft brush. Inside is where all the fun, interesting history resides. Karis found some wonderful drawings in the back of one of the Strayer General Store (Logan County, Ohio) ledgers.

Karis Raeburn discovers original drawings of two men in the back of a Strayer General Store ledger while cleaning.

Karis Raeburn discovers original drawings of two men in the back of a Strayer General Store ledger while cleaning.


Strayer ledger drawings

Strayer ledger drawings

After cleaning, the difference is noticeable to archivists and patrons alike, and the volumes’ physical condition is improved. We can all literally breathe a little easier.

If you want to learn more about proper cleaning methods for books, the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) has a helpful preservation leaflet covering the basics at .


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Atlanta, Georgia Falls

By late August, the Union army had been within three miles of Atlanta for more than a month.  Confederate lines were stretched for 15 miles to protect the city.  At this point, General Sherman decided it was time for action.  He had only a weeks’ supply of grain for his animals and three weeks’ supply of rations for his men.

On August 31, Sherman abandoned his siege of Atlanta and launched an attack to force the Confederate army either to attack or retreat.  Sherman ordered his supply wagons north of the Chattahoochee River and guarded by the XX Corps.  He then moved is army west of Jonesboro cutting the Confederate railroad into Atlanta.

The loss of the railroad forced the Confederate army to  evacuate Atlanta on September 1.  The following morning, the Union army’s XX Corps occupied the city.  General Sherman learned of the capture on September 3.

The capture of Atlanta ended Sherman’s Atlanta campaign.  Sherman reported the capture in a wire to Washington, D.C. on September 3 - “So Atlanta is ours and fairly won.  I shall not push much farther on this raid, but in a day or so will march to Atlanta and give my men some rest.  Since May 5, we have been in one constant battle or skirmish, and need rest.”

Sherman began the Atlanta campaign with 110,000 men.  His armies suffered about 37,000 casualties.  The Confederate strength was about 70,000.  Their losses were about 10,000 under General Johnston and about 20,000 under Hood.

During much of the siege of Atlanta the 61st OVI, including Robert Patterson, operated around the Chattahoochee River bridge.  When Atlanta fell, they moved into a camp on the east side of the city.  They would remain there until November 15 when it started with General Sherman’s army on its “march to the sea.”

The fall of Atlanta left little doubt that the Confederacy would be defeated in the Civil War.  It was also instrumental in President Abraham Lincoln’s re-election in November 1864.

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Save the Date: Great Wright Brothers Aero Carnival on Sept. 6

Please save the date for the Great Wright Brothers Aero Carnival on Saturday, September 6, 2014, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field. Everyone is invited to this free event hosted by the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, National Park Service.

Great Wright Brothers Aero Carnival banner

Graphic courtesy of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park , National Park Service

Activities throughout the day will include:

  • Aircraft Displays
  • Piper J 3 Cub
  • Curtis-Wright Travel Air 4000
  • Zenith 701SP
  • Eroupe 415C
  • Aeronca 7AC Champ
  • Am. Inst. Of Aeronautics & Astronautics
  • Balloon Animals noon – 4:00pm
  • Bicycle Museum of America
  • Bouncy Houses and Games from Outdoor Recreation
  • Carillon Historical Park
  • Caesar Creek Soaring Club
  • Citizens Motor Car Museum
  • Dayton Cycling Club
  • Environmental Management
  • Five Rivers Metro Parks
  • Flyover by the Wright B
  • Food Vendor from Greene Co. Cattleman’s Association
  • Hay Rides
  • Nature Conservancy
  • Paul Glenshaw – presentations at the replica hangar at 11:40am and 2:00pm
  • Photo Contest – winners announced at 1:30pm
  • Puppet Shows
  • Radio Controlled Flying
  • Riverside Historical Society
  • Sheep Herding from the Learning Tree Farm
  • Silent Movies
  • Simulator
  • S.P.A.R. K. Radio Club Team
  • Ohio Rocketry
  • Wright B Flyer Inc.
  • Wright Sea Plane Base
  • Wright State University Special Collections & Archives

We hope to see you there!

View the original announcement from Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, National Park Service.

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