‘Miyagi Network News’ vol.115

~The emergency operation for the waterlogged historical materials~

Reported by Yu Hori, a trustee of the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials 

On April 25th, we carried out the emergency activities for waterlogged historical materials possessed by the Miyagi Prefectural Agricultural High School. On the day, 4 members of the Network for Historical Materials who have vast experience of preserving waterlogged materials caused by natural disasters came to our place and took leadership in how to preserve them. The participants were 6 members of the Yamagata Relief Network for Cultural Heritage and 8 members of the Miyagi Network for preserving Historical Materials.

The Miyagi Prefectural Agricultural High School is located 2km from the coastline, and the school buildings and the schoolyard were seriously damaged by the Tsunami. Although the efforts for reconstruction are continuing, the terrible scars of the damage still remain. Considering the situation and the danger from drifted debris, we decided that we should carry out a rehearsal of our activities in the Tohoku University of Art & Design for our security, and thus we executed the operation for taking the historical materials to the university and carrying out temporary rescue measures on them.

The historical materials and books possessed by the School which was established in the Meiji Period(*1) were mainly collected about agriculture such as “Nogyo Zensho(*2)’, beyond that, there were many books bound in both Japanese and Western styles, which were about language or literature. Those books filled around 50 container boxes in total.

Because the repository was located on the ground floor of the school building, those materials had been damaged by the Tsunami. They were partially brought upstairs by the school teachers, and were sprayed with ethanol for sterilization. Those books piled up on the floor were not only muddy but also mouldy due to waterlogging, and furthermore, many of the books bound in Japanese style were lying on top of each other and not separating from each other. As for our temporary rescue, we removed the surface mud with brushes or skewers in order to not damage them. After that, we cleared part of the titles or imprints as much as possible to take photos, and attached number tags to each book. Although we had planned to take photos for making the lists, there was not enough time to do that, so we decided to carry out those materials and put them in the container boxes.

On the ground floor, we picked up the muddy books which were scattered on the library’s floor, wiped off the mould, sprayed ethanol over them, and dried them in the shade one by one. According to the specialists, we have to treat those materials again after a month.

In the Tohoku University of Art & Design, the materials which were taken out from the high school ware carried out the operation for the emergency measures the next day.

In this time, we realised that the waterlogged materials were facing the risk of being scrapped in the short term, simultaneously they have possibilities of being rescued and preserved. We could get a taste of the specific methods involved.

Photo1: vehicles on the storehouse, Photo2: collection of books, Photo3: removing dirt, Photo4: removal from the libraries, Photo5: bringing to the university, Photo6: classifying the books

NB: The photos are all from the homepage of  the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.

*1 Meiji Period(明治時代): A division of Japanese history which spanned from 1868 to 1912.

*2 Nogyo Zensho(農業全書): the oldest agricultural book in Japan. Published in 1697 coming to 11 volumes in total.










About Nerwork for Historical Materials
A volunteer group for preserving Cultural Heritage suffered from natural disasters

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