Monthly Archives: February 2020

An Enclosure for the Scroll of Esther

The SCARC vault contains many of the rarest, most fragile, and most valuable items held in our collections. Babylonian cuneiform tablets, dating back to 2500 BCE, detail trade transactions involving sheep and goats. Charles Darwin’s expedition and experiences while aboard the The Beagle are detailed in a first-edition of The Voyage of the Beagle, published in 1836. The vault also contains historical manuscripts – including letters from famous scientists, a 13th century Bible on vellum, and Linus Pauling’s Nobel Prizes. There are many vault treasures – most of which are accessible to visiting patrons by request, and many of which are regularly used in class visits or SCARC events. One of the more unique items housed in the vault is the Scroll of Esther.

                Tucked into an ill-suited document case, wrapped in tissue paper, lies the Scroll of Esther, which was probably made in the 18th century. The scroll consists of a single wooden roller, handle, and the rolled pieces of parchment, onto which the Hebrew book has been transcribed in handwriting, as per the Jewish tradition. While delicate, the scroll is in generally good condition – each part remains intact, the ink is still dark and visible, and the scroll can be read somewhat easily, with gentle handling. The document case housing and tissue paper wrapping, however, was decidedly inappropriate, and I was tasked with creating a more suitable enclosure for the scroll.

The previous enclosure for the Scroll of Esther

                When designing a custom enclosure for an object such as a scroll, it is important to note where the object is most fragile, and thus needs the most support. The handle and top of the wooden roller are most subject to damage due to their precarious attachment. In some areas, the handle has just started to crack, as wood expands and contracts with the changing of its environment. Therefore, protecting these portions of the scroll was of utmost importance, and I needed to find a way to create a structure that would prevent the handle from becoming loose and breaking off within the box itself, in the case of careless transport or further degradation of the wood.

                Before I began, I found it necessary to do a little research on the subject of scroll enclosures. An article detailing the acquisition of a large Torah scroll by the Rubenstein Library at Duke University explains how enclosures were modified to add frames to hold and support the handles of the Torah scrolls. I used this as inspiration for an enclosure that would suit the needs of our much smaller Esther scroll, which only had one handle and roller, as opposed to two, as many Hebrew Bible books traditionally contain. The design was relatively straight-forward: a box, a lid, and a structural frame for the wooden parts. Through my rather chaotic construction plans, you can generally see the process of manipulating the flat e-flute.

The new design plans

                After the necessary measurements were made, I began the construction of the box. Each section was cut from e-flute board, folded, and shaped to form the parts. Through trial and error, a structurally sound box was created, with the appropriate dimension to enclose and protect the scroll. A label was added, and the scroll was placed back into the vault, where it will remain until it is of academic or intellectual use.

The finished project!

This blog post was authored by Hannah Lawson, a student archivist and chemistry major at OSU.

Four New Finding Aids Added – January 2020

January is finally over!  Throughout the course of last month, four new or updated finding aids (a.k.a. collection guides) were completed by SCARC staff.  These collections are now fully processed and described and available for researcher use.  Two of the guides are for new collections received since 2015 that were previously unavailable to researchers (the Zigler Papers and Summer Session Records).   The other two guides are substantial updates to incorporate additions and reflect full processing and description.  Descriptions of more than 1300 SCARC collections are available on the SCARC website; 1029 SCARC collections are now described in Archives West.

Finding Aids for new collections:

Gilbert Zigler Papers, 1962-2014 (MSS Zigler)

The Gilbert Zigler Papers document the career of Gilbert “Gil” Zigler, a nuclear engineer who specialized in reactor safety and monitoring. The collection is comprised of items collected during his education at the United States Air Force’s Institute of Technology and career as a reactor diagnostic engineer, spanning from 1962-2014.  The collection includes scientific publications, reference materials, notes, and memorabilia from his career, and highlights Zigler’s professional expertise primarily through documents relating to his role in diagnosing and solving problems during the Three Mile Island reactor incident. Much of the collection addresses the field of reactor safety in its various applications and aspects.

Summer Session Records, 1913-2018 (RG 270)

The Summer Session Records document the operation and administration for courses and special programs and activities offered at Oregon State during the summer beginning in the 1910s. The records specifically pertain to academic courses and special programs and activities; enrollment and demographics for summer students; finances; and promotion and marketing. Summer courses were first offered at Oregon State in 1908.

Finding aids for collections that were only minimally described and are now fully processed and described:

College of Science Records, 1880-2015 (RG 024)

The College of Science Records document the administrative activities of the College of Science at Oregon State University from its founding in 1932. The records include administrative records, biographical files for select faculty and staff of the college, correspondence, department histories, college publications, newspaper clippings, photographs, and microfilmed correspondence and reports. The College of Science was first established as the School of Science in 1932; it became the College of Science in 1973.

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available in Oregon Digital.

Russell and Katherine Tegnell Scrapbook, 1931-1941 (MSS Tegnell)

Russell and Katherine (Smith) Tegnell were students at Oregon State College who met on campus and married in 1934, just before their fourth year of college. The Russell and Katherine Tegnell Scrapbook was compiled by the couple, and contains numerous newspaper clippings as well as a smaller number of photographic prints. Much of the material included in the scrapbook is related to Russell’s time as the President of the Memorial Union as well as Katherine’s academic achievements. Initiation and award certificates, and a blank class officers ballot are also included.