The Conservation of Thanksgiving Sermons

November 22, 2022
by Lyudmyla Babadzhanova and Elizabeth Hyman

A Demonstration from CJH Book Conservator Lyudmyla Babadzhanova

At the end of October, we sent three 100+ year old pamphlets to the Center for Jewish History’s conservation lab. The pamphlets are titled: “Thanksgiving Day: An Appeal to the American People,” a sermon delivered at the Temple Ahawath Chesed on November 27, 1890 by Reverend Dr. Alex Kohut; “Sermon Delivered in the Synagogue, Rodef Shalom, Julianna Street, On Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1868 by Rev. Dr. M. Jastrow;” and “God Our Benefactor: A Sermon Delivered on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1845” at the synagogue Mikve Israel of Philadelphia. 

CJH Book Conservator Lyudmyla Babadzhanova was generous enough to both photograph, and record a time-lapse video of her conservation work on these three pamphlets. We’re excited to show you the results, right in time for Thanksgiving. 

Before beginning the below video, Babadzhanova first surface cleaned the pamphlets with vulcanized sponges, and then applied tape to their spines.

This video begins with Babadzhanova applying Methylcellulose (MC) gel to the Buckram tape, allowing the tape adhesive to swell beneath it without damaging the paper. 

A few minutes later, the tape is released from the pamphlet without causing any damage to the original material. Babadzhanova then removed the excess adhesive remaining on the materials by rolling a cotton swab dampened with deionized water along the spine. 

After allowing the pamphlets to dry under light weights, Babadzhanova rehoused them, and returned them to their place in the AJHS stacks.

As she worked, Babadzhanova took a wide assortment of photographs. The galleries below are divided into “Before” and “After” sections. Notice how much flatter and brighter the pages are after conservation, and notice as well the increased boldness of the text.

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