In 1996, Samuel Cooper, circuit court clerk of Accomack County, contacted the Library of Virginia about a large amount of county records he found in the attic of the clerk’s office. He requested assistance from LVA to determine their value, with the possibility of transferring them to LVA. A team of archivists travelled to Accomack County expecting to examine only a few boxes of old court papers. After climbing through the narrow opening of the office ceiling, they discovered a treasure trove of court records dating from the late 1600s to the early 1700s. Unfortunately, due to the poor environmental and storage conditions the records were in extremely fragile condition. Approximately 50 cubic feet of county records were transferred to the Library of Virginia where they were stabilized.
During the course of several years we examined these records to determine what they were and whether they could be recovered through conservation. The examination revealed that the records were primarily wills, deeds, fiduciary records, judgments, and chancery suits dated from the colonial era of Accomack County. Regrettably, the vast majority of these records are unsalvageable. Victims of heat, humidity, and insects, they can never be recovered. (images above) Fortunately we were able to identify a few gems that could be restored. They include tobacco plant censuses, 1728-1729, tithable lists, 1738-1769, and oaths of allegiance, … read more »
The Library of Virginia recently received a highly competitive Save America’s Treasures grant in the amount of $110,000 for the conservation of the gubernatorial papers of Thomas Jefferson.
The correspondence, letters, and documents pertaining to Thomas Jefferson’s service as the second governor of Virginia bring to life the daily challenges faced by him and other leaders during the Revolutionary War, while drafting the Articles of Confederation, and when addressing frontier relations. The list of Jefferson’s correspondents in the collection reads like a who’s who of American history and includes John Jay, James Madison, Baron Frederick von Steuben, John Paul Jones, George Rogers Clark, among other notables. The collection consists of 1,992 manuscript pages, and three letterbooks. This Save America’s Treasures grant will facilitate the preservation and digitization of the entire collection, ensuring public access to these valuable materials.
This will be the second time these particular documents will go through a preservation process. In the 1930s, The Library of Virginia (then the Virginia State Library) partnered with William J. Barrow, a pioneer in conservation practices. Barrow and his Richmond-based company began work on colonial- and revolutionary-era records held by the archives utilizing his new laminating technique. This new method, which used cellulose acetate film, was widely accepted as a stable and effective means of preserving documents. Within a few decades, however, archivists and librarians discovered … read more »