CCAHA National Endowment for the Arts Paper Conservation Fellow Sigourney Smuts examines the volume before treatment.
The volume contained a collection of documents dating from the mid-17th-mid-19th century; the wills, administrative orders, deeds, and bills of sale of some of the early residents of the colonial settlements on the Island’s North Fork. Within the spiral-bound scrapbook, the documents were encapsulated in cellulose acetate enclosures alongside their 1960s-era transcripts, and attached to a black paper backing within plastic sleeves.
When the scrapbook was brought to CCAHA, the plastic sleeves and enclosures were brittle and shrinking, exhibiting cockling and warping. Offgassing acetic acid had produced a strong vinegar odor and clear crystals had accumulated on the majority of the pages—deterioration resulting from the cellulose acetate sleeves. It was this vinegar odor that had helped the "pickle book" earn its nickname. Many of the documents themselves were stained, and had numerous tapes along the creases and tears.