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After my graduation from WUDPAC in August, I was hired as the Book and Paper Conservator for the Campus Conservation Initiative (CCI) at the Harry Ransom Center, the University of Texas at Austin. Through this initiative, I am able to treat items from collections across UT's campus, including items from the Briscoe Center for American History and UT Library special collections—the Benson Latin American Collection and the Alexander Architectural Archives. Each of these partners have incredibly rare and unique collections that are viewed by researchers and classes across the university. Through the CCI, collection items are treated and stabilized for accessibility at no cost to the partner institutions.
Most recently, I've treated the personal memoirs of Mexican president and general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. These memoirs were written in his own hand during his exile in the Caribbean in 1872 and were never published within his lifetime. During its time at UT, the manuscript has received a lot of attention from interested parties and therefore suffered signs of wear from frequent use. To remedy this, I mended the torn or weak pages and reinforced them using a long-fibered mulberry paper and wheat starch paste. This process, a common process in conservation, stabilizes the pages and is fully reversible. Now the memoirs can be viewed and accessed safely at the Benson!
This is just one of many projects I'll be working on this year as a part of the CCI. Next, I'll be working on a diary from a soldier in the Civil War from the Briscoe Center for American History, and some architectural drawings of the original UT Austin Memorial Football Stadium held in the Alexander Architectural Archives. There is no limit to the amazing things found across the University of Texas's campus, and I'm excited to see more and get the word out about this initiative!
– Kaeley Ferguson, WUDPAC Class of 2023
To read more about Kaeley's work at the Harry Ransom Center, check out the recent article in The Daily Texan.
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The manuscript before (left) and after (right) treatment. (Image: Kaeley Ferguson)
"Mis memorias, Escritas de mi puño y letra sin ayuda de nadie, en mi último destierro," Santa Anna's Memoirs. Genaro Garcia Manuscripts, Benson Latin American Collection, LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, The University of Texas at Austin.