The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 14, Number 1
Feb 1990


Obituary: Judith Segal

Reprinted, in slightly abbreviated form, with permission from the IIC-Canadian Group Newsletter XIV(6), Dec. 1989, p. 34.

On November 19th at the age of 57, Judith Segal passed peacefully away after a long battle with cancer. Indeed, when in October 1988 she graciously agreed to present a paper on her latest research, "Techniques for the Application of Enzymes," at Symposium 88 in Ottawa, she was dying of cancer.

Judy studied bookbinding with Charles McNally at Dartington and with Lucie Weil in Paris. Since her appointment in 1969 as Senior Paper Conservator in the Department of Western Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, she carried out pioneering research with Dr. W.E. van Heyningen of the University of Oxford, into the use of enzymes in paper conservation. She co-authored a number of publications including "The Use of Enzymes to Release Adhesives" (with David Cooper), and "The Use of Enzymes in Partially Non-Aqueous Media" (with David Cooper and Carolyn King).

The importance of Judy's contribution to the field of paper conservation was to become apparent in 1970 when enzymes were first used at the Bodleian to remove oily vegetal tissue from a collection of letters by the 17th century philosopher John Locke. The very mention of her name automatically conjured up enzymes. Not only that, but Judy was tireless in her efforts to improve standards in paper conservation in the United Kingdom. In that role Judy served on numerous committees including the British Standards Institution committee to establish a British Standard for archival conservation in the United Kingdom, and worked for the British Council in the training of library conservators.

In 1977, she served on the steering committee of the newly-formed "Paper Group," the forerunner of the Institute of Paper Conservation. In 1981 she was elected as one of three archival representatives to the Executive Committee of the IPC. As a member of the Technical Committee of the Society of Archivists, she was frequently involved in some capacity in the organization of their Annual Instructional Meeting for Conservators. For example, at the meeting in Southampton in 1983 she organized a practical demonstration on "The Use of Enzymes in Conservation."

As recently as September of this year she attended, and helped to organize, the Society of Archivists Annual Instructional Meeting for Conservators in Aberystwyth, North Wales. She will be sadly missed by her colleagues.

She leaves a husband and four children.

David Tremain
Conservator, Works on Paper
Canadian Conservation Institute

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