Category Archives: Preservation

Preservation Projects: Digital Initiatives

A selection of the original glass plate negatives from our World War I holdings , on display as part of the "Over There" exhibit (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

A selection of the original glass plate negatives from our World War I holdings , on display as part of the “Over There” exhibit (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

Digital images on display in "Over There" (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

Digital images on display in “Over There” (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)










In our efforts to preserve the Daughters’ legacy for years to come, we have worked with a number of specialists in art, book, and paper conservation. In addition, we have worked with experts in digital technology to make high-quality reproductions of archival materials. Digital copies allow us to reduce wear and tear on fragile originals and facilitate online access over the web and social media. In addition, digital technology can make obsolete formats once again accessible to scholars and the public. Such is the case with the images now on display as part of our exhibit, “Over There:” The Daughters of Charity’s Service in the First World War. The collections of the former St. Louis Province include a set of approximately 100 glass plate negatives depicting the Sisters’ World War I service. These negatives included images of the Sisters, the lay nurses who served with them, the hospital where they served, and the fighting along the Italian Front. Because of their format they could be not be studied, and had never been exhibited. They were digitized in 2009 by Digital Preservation, of St. Louis. With Over There, the World War I images are on display for the first time. Digital images were used to create all the photos used in both the physical exhibit and the companion video. Digital technology will play an important role in future preservation efforts.

Over There will be on display through October 30.
Exhibit hours for Sisters, Associates, and volunteers on the Emmitsburg Campus: Monday-Friday, 8AM to 4:30PM
Exhibit hours for the general public: Wednesdays, 10AM to 4PM.
All exhibits are free of charge.

The Over There video may be viewed online using the links below.
Part 1:
Part 2

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Filed under Exhibits, Preservation, World War 1

Preservation Projects: Zachary Taylor Letter

Zachary Taylor letter, before restoration

Zachary Taylor letter, prior to undergoing conservation treatment (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

Taylor letter

One side of the restored Zachary Taylor letter (image courtesy of Nancy Purinton, Purinton Preservation, Frederick, MD)











Years ago, one of the Sisters inherited an autograph letter written by Taylor in 1848 to a certain Dr. Prichard in Iberville, LA. On her death it came into the archives. The letter was in very poor shape, its paper suffering the effects of typical nineteenth-century iron gall ink. We sent it out to one of our local trusted conservation experts, Nancy Purinton of Purinton Preservation in Frederick, MD. You can see the results of her efforts in the “Before” and “After” pictures.

For more information about the letter and a transcription, see our July 28, 2014 blog post.


Filed under Preservation, U.S. Presidents, Zachary Taylor

Preservation Projects: Seton Canonization Banner

Elizabeth Ann Seton canonization banner, now on display in the Seton Shrine Museum (image used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

Elizabeth Ann Seton canonization banner, now on display in the Seton Shrine Museum (image used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

By Denise Gallo, Provincial Archivist

(The American Library Association has designated the week of April 27 as Preservation Week. This week, we will highlight preservation projects undertaken by the Provincial Archives over the last two years.)

Elizabeth Ann Seton will have been canonized for 40 years come September 14, 2015. That’s almost as long as the Daughters of Charity in Emmitsburg have had in their archives one of the most important artifacts of that momentous day in 1975 – the banner that hung from the balcony of the Vatican announcing her elevation to sainthood. This year, that very banner, now a part of the collections of the Provincial Archives, became the focus of a preservation project as large in scope as the banner is in actual size – 148” high and 106” wide.

As plans for the canonization commemoration took shape, Archives offered the banner for an exhibit in the museum of the National Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Since its arrival from Rome, the banner had been stored as it had been shipped — rolled up in plastic. As discussions with Seton Heritage Ministries progressed about the banner’s loan, it was moved into one of Archives’ exhibit halls where it was unrolled and examined by art conservator Nancy Pollak of Art Care Associates, who was engaged to clean the banner and prepare it for display. With her expert advice, the banner was rolled back up within large white sheets around a cardboard tube and moved to her studio for treatment.

The other critical participants in the banner’s preservation were members of the Daughters of Charity Maintenance Staff, led by George Brenton, Director of Campus Facilities. George and his staff transported the banner to Nancy’s studio, returning it just before the Shrine exhibit was to open on April 11, 2015. Phil Plank, one of Maintenance’s carpenters, built a special frame for it, following specific instructions about type of wood, metal clasps for stretching, and braces to hold the banner in place. Nancy worked painstakingly for an entire day stretching the newly-cleaned banner onto the frame. After it was hung on the museum wall, she completed the final phase by “in-painting” any obvious flaws that would show up under the museum’s lights.

Destined for a single day’s use, the banner was created to be viewed from far below by the multitude of pilgrims in Vatican Square, with artist Giuseppe Ciotti using what is known as “snail’s eye” perspective. Looking at the banner from a different angle, Shrine visitors can clearly see that Mother Seton has unusually large hands which she extends in protection over North America, its geographic details also having been exaggerated to clearly depict the Rockies and the Appalachians. In an attempt to diminish that effect, the banner has been hung as high as possible on the museum wall and is best viewed by standing back at a slight distance.

The canonization banner was the Provincial Archives’ most extensive preservation project to date. The overwhelmingly positive reactions from Shrine visitors as they see the same image of Mother Seton that hung in Vatican Square on Sept. 14, 1975, have made it well worth the time and effort.

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Filed under Elizabeth Ann Seton, Exhibits, Preservation, Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph's