Preservation of WWI Collection

April 2, 2018

Preservation is top priority at the Wellesley Historical Society. To keep our collection safe we monitor temperature, control humidity, have an emergency preparedness plan and practice integrated pest management.  However, sometimes we come across materials which suffered critter damage long before they came into our collections.

One example of damage was discovered in the Early Family Papers, likely caused by mice. While Jack Early was serving in France during World War I, his sister Eleanor sent him tightly folded packets of letters and newspaper clippings with news from the home front. At some point after reading them, it is likely Jack folded up the materials again and placed them back in the envelope; in the intervening years, mice got to them, nibbling at the corners of the packet. Decades later, while processing the collection, we find interesting patterns when the documents are once again unfolded. In the photos we see the partially opened packet, a fully opened letter from Eleanor to Jack, and an article written by Eleanor she included in the packet. In all these examples, critter damage is evident!

To ensure the long-term preservation of our collections, we place items in acid-free folders and archival-quality boxes. In order to make them accessible to researchers, we process organize collections and create finding aids. The Early Family Papers are being preserved and and made accessible with generous grant support from the Wellesley Community Preservation Commission (CPC) and the Massachusetts’s State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB).

Alden Ludlow, grant-funded Archivist