(Images used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)
Our collections are unique and irreplaceable, and preservation measures are an ongoing activity for the Provincial Archives. The Provincial Archives, working with conservator Mary Wootton, has just completed conservation treatments for one of the most historically valuable items in our collection: The Regulations for the Society of Sisters of Charity in the United States of America, commonly known as the American Rule of 1812.
Conserving the American Rule was a labor-intensive process, as each of the book’s 60 leaves received attention. Mary’s treatment plan involved several steps. After removing the binding, she washed all the pages in special solution. She then removed strips of tape that had been used to repair the volume at the beginning of the twentieth century. She then repaired the newly-cleaned leaves and re-bound the book. According to Mary, the American Rule is now in a condition very close to its original condition at the time it was written in 1812.
This is one of the most important pieces in our collection because it is the common link for all members of the Sisters of Charity Federation. It is the first American translation of the Vincentian Rule. For this reason, too, it is important for the Sisters of Charity who descend from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Preserving the legacy of Mother Seton, seen in documents such as the American Rule, is an important part of our stewardship responsibilities. Thanks to Mary’s efforts, the American Rule will be available for many years into the future.
The restored American Rule is now on display in Gallery 2. It is open to the public on Wednesday afternoons; open to Sisters and Associates on the Emmitsburg Campus during our normal hours (8am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday).