Masons act to preserve historic charter

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Preserving historic documents is one of the key missions of the Darlington County Historical Commission, and last week Commission director Brian Gandy got the chance to help members of the 9th Masonic District Riven Rock #60 rescue and preserve their 114-year-old charter for the benefit of generations to come.

The Masons brought the framed document to the Historical Commission on the evening of Tuesday, April 18, and lodge members observed as Gandy carefully removed the charter from its old wooden frame. He cleaned it up a bit with a dry natural bristle brush, digitally scanned it with a non-damaging high-resolution scanner, and re-homed the charter in a breathable protective sleeve with an acid-free backer.

The charter was a bit worse for wear, having been exposed for many decades to the degrading forces of light, high temperature, and humidity. But, fortunately, the face of the document freed easily from the glass frame and the text – while faded – was undamaged.

Gandy said that much of the yellow discoloration on the charter was a good faith mistake; someone used corrugated cardboard and glue to secure the charter in the frame, inadvertently doubling the acid load in contact with the fragile charter. He advised lodge members, and anyone seeking to prolong the life of their documents and photos, to never use pasteboard and glue in this manner. Instead, he suggested spending a few extra dollars for acid-free archival backing paper and boards, available online and at many hobby and craft stores.

“The person who put this charter in a frame thought they were doing the right thing, and with the understanding people had of preservation at the time, they probably were doing the right thing. But when a document sits in a frame like this for a hundred years with that acid loaded backer on it, it just continually eats away at the document,” said Gandy.
As he performed the preservation, Gandy spoke to lodge members about the key role such historical documents and records have played in the African American community.

“We want to get the word out in the community about the importance of documents, and I’m extremely honored that we’re doing this with a group of African American Masons,” said Gandy. “For a community that knew what it was like to be enslaved, it was their ability to link together in groups like the Masons, in church groups and mutual aid associations, that gave them the capacity to step up as a people and stand up for their own rights. These documents tell those stories.”

The Darlington Historical Commission is located at 204 Hewitt Street in Darlington. To learn more about how the Commission can help your family, church, or service group preserve your important historical documents and artifacts, call Brian Gandy at (843) 398-4710.

You can find more pictures of the preservation by clicking here..

Author: mrollins

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