In January 2023 I mentioned that in the early 1900s, University College, Reading had a good reputation in some quarters for its treatment of women students. At the same time I pointed out some of the unpleasantness women students faced, and cited examples of misogyny in Tamesis, the official College magazine. The worst of these, though, was not in the magazine itself but in an unofficial ‘Tamesis Scandal Supplement’ published, presumably by male students, in June 1927.
Brief details of its content are in the earlier post but, for the moment, I want to use it as an example of the meticulous preservation work that is undertaken by the University’s Museums and Special Collections team.
When I came across it nestling among the official copies of Tamesis, the four-page supplement was seriously damaged, flaking (see image below), and very fragile. In my post I explained that it has been removed from the Reading Room at the MERL to be repaired.
This work has now been painstakingly completed by Victoria Stevens ACR, Paper Conservator at the University Museums and Special Collections Services.
Victoria explained to me the process of repairing and preserving this and similar documents. She describes this as a ‘light repair’ with a minimum amount of ‘filling in’ the missing parts:
- Cleaning with a latex sponge;
- resizing with methyl cellulose dissolved in alcohol;
- repairing with Japanese paper made from kozo fibre (a thin, but very strong, long fibre);
- storing in a folder of acid-free card within a transparent Melinex archival polyester wallet.
The document is still very fragile but available for reference in the Reading Room at the MERL where it can be found in its original location among the 1927 issues of Tamesis (Call No.: University History Collection–TAM).
Unfortunately, the rejuvenation of the supplement does not make the sentiments it contains any more palatable. But more of that and the context in which it appeared in a future post.
To Victoria Stevens ACR, Paper Conservator at the University Museums and Special Collections Services, for carrying out the repair and sharing all the details.