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    Preservation at the Courthouse
    by Johlene Hess

    A campus-community project has allowed the Preservation Unit of Carrier Library to expand their expertise and knowledge.

    The Genealogy Room in the Rockingham County Courthouse contains many old record books of interest to researchers.  The record books, some dating from the late 1700’s were unmarked and in various stages of disrepair on the shelves in the genealogy room.  The bindings  suffered from leather rot and poor condition.   Without labels, a researcher would have to paw through the large, heavy books to determine  their content.  Gordon Miller, Dr Dorothy-Boyd Rush and the members of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society  identified a number of old records in the courthouse in need of preservation work.


    Ledger in need of preservation

    Mary Wilson Stewart, Head of Carrier Library Preservation Unit, and Peggy Dillard undertook the preservation project. Armed with 50 feet of mylar, rags, brushes, scalpels and adhesive for page tipping they headed for the courthouse.

    Repairs included gluing in loose pages and textblocks into covers, reinforcing pages (especially in the Marriage Books), repairing torn pages and performing general cleaning of inner margins where brittle paper debris and dust collect.


    Japanese ricepaper repair to end sheet
    54 journals/ledgers were labeled and placed in mylar dust jackets. Peggy Dillard deciphered the handwriting in the journals/ledgers and in consultation with Gordon Miller was able to determine their correct label. Shirron Ballard provided bold accurate labeling for each of the journals/ledgers.

    Some titles treated were: Vacant land 1880-1954, Bail Book 1834-1837, Muster roll & Index 1914-and the ever popular Estray book 1865-1932 (It seems livestock has been getting loose in Harrisonburg for a very long time). New covers were made for 3 single signature books and re-sewn into new bindings.


    Labeling is bold and readable

    The completed project should lessen the handling of these large heavy volumes due to the label and dates. The mylar dustjackets will protect each volume. This will facilitate access to information for researchers, historians and other scholars and help preserve these historical documents.


    Sewn textblock

    E-mail comments and questions to:
    clarkeke@jmu.edu

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