Oddy Testing in Conservation

I’m Susan Hull, Graduate Intern in Book Conservation at Palace Green Library. I have been working with Katie Brew, Assistant Conservator, investigating the materials we use for long term storage of our collections.

Recently we received items packaged in unidentified materials. This is a cause of concern; the rate of deterioration of an archival object can increase by way of the substances surrounding it, including packaging. Unsuitable packaging can expose paper archives to volatile substances, which migrate to the object and ultimately contribute to its degradation.

To assess the materials suitability for long term storage, we contacted Archaeological Conservator Vicky Garlick who runs Oddy testing in the Dawson building, for the students of the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects MA.

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Graduate intern update: Beth

Graduate intern Beth Hall updates us on what she’s been up to recently…

Hello! It’s Beth, back again with a long-awaited intern update. I’m glad to have the opportunity to sit myself down and reflect on these last few hectic and varied months. It’s been a busy year so far – just how I like it!

One of the largest and heaviest books I’ve ever had to retrieve – the Hartlepool Antiphonal, yes that is the size of an entire trolley!
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Bishop Tunstall: The man who survived the Tudors by calculating the odds

On the International Day of Mathematics, a post by Dr Elizabeth Biggs (Trinity College Dublin/TNA Postdoctoral Research Fellow) Dr Danielle Westerhof (Rare Books Librarian) and Gemma Lewis (Castle Curator).

How many of us who have lived, worked or explored Durham Castle have ever heard about the man who built the Tunstall Gallery and Chapel?

Cuthbert Tunstall (1474-1559), bishop of Durham from 1530 until his death, was a survivor.

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The Lambton Archive – a summer internship

Summer intern Iris Leussink looks back on two months spent working at Palace Green Library

For a lot of people in Durham, Palace Green Library is a bit of a mystery. Some of my friends, even those who have studied and lived in here for four years, have never set foot in the building. Before I started, I had only been here once to see a rare book for my History dissertation. So I’m writing this blog post to give you an idea of what an internship at an archive might look like in practice.

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Graduate intern update: Beth

Graduate intern Beth Hall updates us on what she’s been up to in the last month or so…

Hello, it’s Beth! Back again with another update from my Archives and Special Collections internship.

I promised an update on my time with conservation in my last post, and what a fascinating couple of weeks it has been.

We kicked off with a tour of the building, with a view to look at the conservation measures that we have in place to keep the collections safe. We have pest traps around the building (not necessarily to catch all the insects we might have here as you might think, but to monitor their levels and where they are likely to be found), which are mostly by the strong rooms where the collections are kept. We also have temperature and humidity monitors that make sure the environment for the collections are stable. These are regularly checked, and radiators come on if humidity levels get too high to make sure everything balances out!

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Graduate intern update: Beth

Graduate intern Beth Hall updates us on what she’s been up to in the last month or so…

It’s been nearly three months since I started here at Palace Green Library in Durham, and time has definitely flown! My mornings are spent helping out in the search room to make sure our readers and collections are well looked after. It’s still quiet in Palace Green while restrictions are still in place and students are enjoying their summers, but there’s still been a steady stream of reprographics requests and enquiries to take care of to ensure researchers still have access to our collections remotely. I haven’t seen this building in its fully populated state, so I’m intrigued to see what it’ll be like in here once the students are in!

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Libraries are not just for reading

A guest post by Liz Mytton, the first of our artist-facilitators in our #CreativeCosins summer workshop programme

“If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s the value of moving freely. To travel, to shake hands and embrace. In the early months of lockdown last year, I remember driving to my shift (I was a part-time NHS worker at the time) and on observing the empty streets during what would have normally been rush hour, I felt like a character in some apocalyptic thriller – everyone had disappeared.

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Intelligent, demanding, and meticulous: getting to know Bishop John Cosin

Over the last year, History PhD student Lily Chadwick has been cataloguing the correspondence of Bishop John Cosin, founder of Cosin’s Library on Palace Green in the centre of Durham. Reading through his letters, she caught a glimpse of his personality.

Cataloguing the correspondence of Bishop John Cosin over the course of the last eight months has provided considerable insight into the personality and mind of one of Durham’s most imposing figures. Certainly, there are limitations to the source material, which mean that we cannot draw definitive conclusions about Cosin as a person.

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The miraculous cure of Sister Aloysia Gonzaga O’Connor: Spotlight on the collections

One of our archivists, Dr Jonathan Bush, retells the story of a miraculous cure that stunned doctors and caused quite a stir in 19th-century England. The account of Sister Aloysia’s healing is found in the archives of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, which Jonathan has been cataloguing.

The substantial archive of the Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre, dating back to its foundation in Liege in 1642, documents the rich and colourful history of an English convent abroad. The records in the collection tell the story of the community in Liege, its evacuation to England during the turbulent years of the French Revolution, and its subsequent flourishing as a school and convent at New Hall, near Chelmsford, Essex.

One of its more remarkable personal stories concerns the extraordinary ‘cure’ of Sister Aloysia Gonzaga O’Connor. News of the case caused something of a sensation in a country where Catholics and their tales of ‘miracles’ were treated with suspicion and derision by a predominantly Protestant media.

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Conservation training during Covid-19

Katie, one of our conservators based at Palace Green Library, is studying for her ARA certificate in Archive Conservation. A significant element of her training is getting practical experience – not the easiest thing to accomplish at the moment. But last year, in between lockdowns, she managed to head to Flintshire Record Office for her placement with Conservator Mark Allen. In this post, she shares the results of her training.

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