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Digging into the past - The Archives Conservation Project

Percival Plow
Percival Plow and Stove Catalogue Circa 1890
The Society is in the fifth year of work on its Archives Conservation Project, which commenced following a $14,800 grant to the Society from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), in 2005. A second OTF grant of $25000 was made in June 2007 covering a three-year term ending in 2010.

Bob RuncimanOn both occasions, a reception was held, at which an OTF cheque was presented to the Society by the Leeds Grenville MPP, Bob Runciman. Other funding has included a bequest to the Society for archive retention purposes, made under the will of the late Thomas Manning, a long time Merrickville resident.

The monies have been used to pay the wages of part-time technicians, for equipment and resources to preserve archives in digital form, to establish a secure accessible virtual archive and to safely store valuable paper documents. In 2006 the Society entered into an agreement with the Corporation of the Village of Merrickville-Wolford and since that time the Village has paid the rent for a suitable climate-controlled Archive Room. The archives were moved into the Room and all Project-related work is now carried out there.

Archive Storage Over the years the Archive Project Team has been led by Society volunteer Dieter Raths, and a computer engineer, specializing in digital imaging. who has supervised the work of a succession of part-time, paid summer staff and volunteers of the Society. In consequence, The Society is now close to achieving its long-held objectives of ensuring the safe preservation and of improving access to the archive collection and providing information about the exhibits in the Blockhouse Museum.

In the words of 2005 Society President, Denis Faulkner, “The safe and secure storage of such artifacts needs to balance with the growing need for public access.”

Summer StaffA significant challenge posed by the Project has been the need for careful handling, cleaning and preservation of documents, some of which are over 200 years old, and which have become very fragile. Thanks to the second OTF grant, an airwash machine to treat soiled paper was purchased, together with shelving and additional acid-free folders or boxes for the new Archive Room. After identification and cataloguing, fragile items are cleaned and restored. All artifacts are then photographed digitally and finally they are stored. Thus the process represents a convergence of old and new archival conservation techniques.


Merrickville and District Historical Society
PO Box 294
Merrickville, Ontario K0G 1N0

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