Thankful for Artifact Preservation

by: Katie Gaudette
In the generations since the first 1621 celebration, Thanksgiving has become a time to reflect on the good in our lives. We celebrate relationships, happy events, and prosperity with feasts and parties that often bring us even closer with family and friends. During these celebrations, we bring out cherished objects, treasured for the memories they evoke: Grandma’s teacups, Uncle Joe’s turkey carving knife, the tablecloth hand sewn by Aunt Judy, each holds a special family memory. Often such treasures come in the form of family heirlooms, pictures, books, and stories that are passed down through families, but at some point, such heirlooms need special care and attention in order for them to survive for future generations.

Donations of Thurber artifacts go
through an accession process to
best care for each object
The Gordon Center staff feel deeply honored that so many individuals with Thurber ties have entrusted us to safeguard their treasures and stories. In doing so, these families have not only helped secure the object’s future well-being but have also enabled our staff to share those stories with other guests and schoolchildren in our local communities.

Every time we are entrusted with an heirloom, picture, or artifact, dedicated hands immediately determine what the object needs in order to preserve it, how best to store it, and designate a specific identification number for easy retrieval. For clothing, this requires unfolding the garment as folding can damage older textiles. Partial molds created with acid free tissue paper help retain the shape of the clothing while also preventing any acid found in fabric from degrading any other fabric it touches.

Our staff use special tools to
and solutions to mark fragile
Paper objects like letters and postcards are numbered in pencil on the back in an inconspicuous place, all staples and paper clips are removed and replaced with acid free plastic alternatives, before being classified and sorted into acid-free folders. Photographs go through a similar process, although occasionally an acid-free pen is used to number those with slick backings.
Our staff members are
meticulously trained
to mark and preserve

Three-dimensional objects like jars, tools, and geological samples receive either an acid-free tag or an identifier through a special process. A nonabrasive, noncorrosive sealant that superficially accepts ink is applied to an inconspicuous place, acid-free ink is used to mark its number, and the ink is sealed again.

Here at the Gordon Center we are devoted to the preservation of any artifact that helps to tell the story of Thurber, the people of Thurber, and the company that sustained. Continuing to retell these stories spreads interest and helps to make sure that the people who were born, died, lived, and worked here are remembered.

If you have any photographs or objects with Thurber ties and would like to consider donating them to the Gordon Center, please feel free to contact us at Don’t have any Thurber materials, but still want to support the preservation of these artifacts? Consider joining our membership program, the Gordon Society. Your tax-deductible fee lets you experience the museum like a VIP with member-only benefits while ensuring the continuation of the Gordon Center mission. To join, click on the following link: 

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