The Historical Collections department at the Claude Moore Health Sciences library houses many rare and beautiful books, and recently, thanks to an award from the Southeast Atlantic region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, one of their most fragile and valuable books, published in 1578, has been given new life by Etherington Conservation Services in Browns Summit, NC. “Orders Thought Meete by Her Maiestie, and her Priuie Councell…” is a small book which was probably originally a pamphlet, and was carried throughout England by the magistrates of Queen Elizabeth I to notify the public about how to prevent and treat the plague.
The leaves (pages) of the library’s copy of “the Plague Book” were stained, brittle and crumbling; some were loose from the binding, which was not original to the book. In order to save and preserve the pages, the conservator disbound the pages, cleaned and re-sized the leaves , and mended the tears and places where the paper was missing by applying Japanese paper and wheat starch paste. The book was rebound in a handmade, acid-free binding, with its title stamped in gold on the spine. The restored book is now beginning a new life of teaching students and researchers about what was essentially a public health campaign against plague in Elizabethan England, safe from further deterioration. To see the entire “Plague Book” online, please visit the library’s online exhibit at http://historical.hsl.virginia.edu/plague/.
To visit the book in person and see other rare books and artifacts, stop by the library’s Service Desk and ask to be given access to Historical Collections, 8 AM-5 PM, Monday through Friday.