Miyagi Network News vol.145

~The preservation activity for the waterlogged materials, in the secretariat office~

 This is Masashi Amano, the secretariat officer of the Miyagi Network for Historical Materials.

As from April, the historical materials damaged by the Tsunami, which were rescued in each place, have been transferred to the secretariat office one after another. So as to preserve them which had been soaked in the seawater, the secretariat office is carrying out the cleaning operations.

The lecture about the washing documents(15th July)

1.The Present Condition of the waterlogged materials

In the East Japan Earthquake, the extensive tsunami caused many historical materials to be soaked. At present, innumerable damaged materials are temporary preserved in the secretariat office, and almost all of them are waterlogged. There is an opinion that mould would not easily form on the documents which were soaked in the seawater, however, many of the materials in our office got mould because of the passing time and rising temperature. For this reason, they require the urgent measures as soon as possible.

Therefore, we are carrying out the cleaning operation cooperating with the people who offer their voluntary support from the whole nation.

2.Technical Support from the Tokyo Document Recovery Assistance Force

On 15th July, the Tokyo Document Recovery Assistance Force which was organised for rescuing the print, media damaged by the tsunami gave us engineering guidance concerning the cleaning method for the damaged materials. The cleaning operation called ‘TDRAF method’ was as follows;

(1)In the water, floating the boards which are made from the expanded polystyrene, and placing the documents which are put between the steal-made net, and washing them.

(2)After absorbing the water by the towel whose absorption rate is high, placing the documents between non-woven fabrics on the filter paper, and putting them between the cardboard in order to dry them.

The lecture about the drying up documents(15th July)

In this process, the documents are kept away from direct touch because they are put between steal nets and non-woven fabrics. For this reason, it was very efficient and safe to treat the documents which were likely to be torn due to be soaking wet, according to the members of TDRAF. Moreover, almost all utensils such as non-woven fabrics and filter papers are available to reuse, so we hope for reducing the expenditure for rescue operations.

When it comes to the TDRAF method, I think it has useful characteristics which were established as a series of processed from washing to drying. Before that, the method of cleaning operation which we had carried out had been developed every time we faced problems. For instance, in the process of washing documents, we had discussed with voluntary workers and had washed the damaged archives making use of steal nets in order to protect those which were waterlogged. Also, as for the absorbing water, we were informed by the Network for Historical Materials about the method of using so-called swimming towels which swimmers use for wiping their body. In this way, with regard to these separated techniques and knowledge, we had searched for solutions to carry out the urgent measure so as to make use of the familiar utensils. I think the TDRAF method made use of our efforts too and was efficient as a method of work. Additionally, in terms of the drying operation, we could solve the problem about the time-loss and the shortage of space. Furthermore, the washing measure of using the expanded polystyrene was also innovative because it reduced the risk of documents being destroyed, compared with our former method which let the exposed documents be floated in water.

The washing operation in 'TDRAF method'

5 months has already passed since the East Japan Earthquake, however, we are still confirming the waterlogged documents in various conditions in accordance with the area where they were damaged, and when they were confirmed after the disaster. Those damaged materials are not always in the same situation, depending on the type or form of papers, and the difference between those written in Japanese ink or Indian ink. These require urgent treatment. Until now, we were given a lot of advice such as the TDRAF methods, the vacuum freeze drying and the squelch method, and each association offered their cooperation. We, the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials will carry out each method, and will choose the most effective method.

In the Nara Narional Research Institute for Cultural Properties and Tohoku University of Art and Design, at present they keep doing the cleaning operation by the vacuum freeze drying. In addition, the Yamagata Relief Network for Cultural Heritage offered us their cooperation about the cleaning operation for the waterlogged historical materials. Furthermore, the voluntary workers from across the country propose to support us, and they are carrying out the cleaning operations in the secretariat office almost every day. Taking this opportunity, we would like to express our gratitude to all of them, and we appreciate your continuous support and cooperation.

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

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

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