Dickens Letters Lovingly Restored

Bound correspondence showing broken binding and correspondence, including letter from Charles Dickens
May 25, 2016

On the shelves of the Perkins Archives we have a collection of 94 leather-bound volumes that contain original correspondence written to Perkins between 1828 and 1910. Bound and indexed, this collection contains letters from such notable figures as Anne Sullivan, Dorothea Dix, Henry David Thoreau, and even Charles Dickens. In the incoming correspondence from 1868-1869 there are three letters from Dickens to founding Perkins Director, S.G. Howe.

While the digitized volume is available on the Internet Archive, the physical volume was in sad shape. The volume suffered from deteriorating and broken covers and binding, dirty and discolored letters, and a binding technique that involved gluing letters into acidic paper stubs that often covered text along the edges. The Dickens letter at the front of the volume was in particular danger. This spring we sent the 1868-1869 volume of incoming bound correspondence to the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) for treatment. The volume was disbound, paper stubs were removed, and the adhesive left on the correspondence reduced. Papers were cleaned and tears were mended. The treated correspondence is now foldered and housed safely in a manuscript box helping ensure the collection will be available to future generations. The before and after is provided below. 

Bound correspondence showing broken binding and correspondence, including letter from Charles Dickens

​The badly damaged bound correspondence with broken binding before conservation treatment. The top letter,written in 1868, is from Charles Dickens to Dr. Samuel G. Howe.

Photograph of the same correspondence after conservation treatment.

This folder contains the same correspondence seen in the previous image, including the letter from Charles Dickens. They have been dis-bound, cleaned, repaired, and placed into archival folders.