This post is by Sara Belasco, Enhanced Conservation Work Experience Assistant (ECWE)
With the meteoric rise of Hamilton: An American Musical, interest in the historical figures depicted in the show has skyrocketed. This pamphlet–Letter from Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esq., President of the United States* (New York: Printed for John Lang by George F. Hopkins, 1800)–is going on loan to one of the many exhibits about Hamilton that have sprung up since the musical opened in 2015.
However, before we could let the pamphlet travel we needed to stabilize it. It was once bound in a large volume with multiple pamphlets, but they were separated long ago for individual cataloging. Our main goal was to return the pamphlet to its original binding state, sewing it together with a three-hole pamphlet stitch in the original holes as seen above.
First, we separated the pages from the old leather and adhesive on the spine. Then we dry cleaned the pages with vinyl eraser crumbs to remove surface dirt. Next, we washed the pages in a deionized water bath with a pH of 9 to remove acidic degradation products.
Our other goal for this treatment was to preserve any evidence of the methods of manufacture. To keep the type impressions intact, the we air dried the pages until they no longer glistened and then dried them between felts and boards. We used felts instead of blotter–without weights–so that the impressions would not flatten.
Before sewing the pamphlet back together, we mended and guarded the pages with eastern paper and wheat starch paste. We took special care with this corner, which shows the original size of the pages before they were trimmed when the pamphlet was bound with others in a single volume.
*To find out exactly what Hamilton had to say about Adams in this infamous pamphlet, check out this post.