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Guide to the New-York Historical Society Library Department Records

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 10, 2021
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Series IX. Conservation, 1989-2004. 9.42 Linear feet

Scope and Contents Note

The series includes three principal sets of records from the library's conservation lab. First are the lab's files of outgoing loans and in-house exhibitions from 1989 to 2005. Second are the files (1990-1993) of Associate Librarian for Preservation Duane Watson and those of his colleague, Stacks Manager Christine Seeto. Finally, there are records of a daguerreotype (cased images) conservation survey from 1992-1993.

The outgoing loan files are generally fairly slender, with uneven content. Many include conservation treatment notes, but others include just the record of the approved loan or general correspondence about the loans. Some post-2000 files include color slides of the loaned objects. In-house exhibition files tend to be more extensive, reflecting the broader involvement of the lab with these activities. These exhibition files commonly include not only condition and treatment reports, but also basic information about the objects in relation to the exhibition, including labels, checklists, display logistics, etc. The loan and exhibition files include folder lists at the front of each box.

The Watson records are generally of a more administrative and broader nature, and less focused on individual objects. Watson's records include budgets, survey results, performance statistics, internal memos, conservation reference material, grants, and grant project activities. Seeto's records are concerned with stack surveys, movements of material within the stacks and other such logistical matters.

Related Archival Materials Note

Files on conservation matters, including grants, projects, preservation microfilming, etc. can be found in the above series as well, especially Series IV. Librarian & Curatorial Files and Series VIII. Print Room.

Arrangement Note

Outgoing loans and exhibition files are presented first. They are in their original folders and original order, which is chronological. These are followed by a carton of detailed records of a daguerreotype survey. Watson's and Seeto's records close the series. Watson's files are in their original folders and original order, which is alphabetical by subject. Seeto's files are also in their original folders and original order, which seems to have no particular arrangement.

Biographical/Historical Note

Aside from a bindery that operated from 1929 until about 1960, N-YHS had no in-house conservation unit until the mid-1980s when it began to build such a staff, initially for the museum. Professional conservators arrived in the library when paper and book conservation labs were opened in early 1989. In 1990, Duane Watson was hired as Associate Librarian for Preservation, a position he held until he left N-YHS in early 1993. In this position, Watson was responsible for overseeing object-level conservation efforts for the library and the management of the collection in the stacks. This latter responsibility was carried out in the early 1990s principally by Stacks Manager Christine Seeto. Down to the present (2016), N-YHS's library has continued to maintain a conservation lab, headed since the mid-1990s by chief conservator, Alan Balicki. Among the conservation staff's many responsibilities has been the assessment of outgoing loans of objects (e.g., conditions of objects, proper housing, conditions at the borrower site) and preparation of objects for in-house exhibitions.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 285 Folder : 1-103 Outgoing Loan Files (1 of 2 boxes)
Offsite-Box: 286 Folder : 1-73 Outgoing Loan Files (2 of 2 boxes)
Offsite-Box: 287 Folder : 1-64 Exhibition Files (1 of 3 boxes)
Offsite-Box: 288 Folder : 1-47 Exhibition Files (2 of 3 boxes)
Offsite-Box: 289 Folder : 1-57 Exhibition Files (3 of 3 boxes)
Offsite-Box: 290 Cards : - Daguerreotype (Cased Images) Conservation Survey Cards (RESTRICTED)

Scope and Contents Note

Because of the fragile condition of these records, they may be used only by advance appointment with the Manuscripts Reference Librarian and in consultation with the library's conservator.

Offsite-Box: 291 Folder : 1-63 Duane Watson Files (1 of 3 boxes)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes subject files A-G including, among other subjects, budget/financial, preservation consultant reports (including results of a statistical survey by Richard Frieder of the New York State and City Collection), conservation plans, permanent collections gallery re-installation planning, floor plans, grants.

Offsite-Box: 292 Folder : 1-61 Duane Watson Files (2 of 3 boxes)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes subject files G-R including, among other subjects, grants, OPAC/cataloging statistics, staff memos/monthly status reports (under Personnel), RLG projects.

Offsite-Box: 293 Folder : 1-15 Duane Watson Files (3 of 3 boxes)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes subject files R-W including, among other subjects, RLG projects (e.g. preservation microfilming), wood block conservation.

Offsite-Box: 132 Folder : 1-66 Christine Seeto Files (65 folders)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes files on collection surveys, inventories, locations and relocations in the stacks, stack maps, and other stacks/collection management matters.


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