The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 19, Number 2
May 1995


OBITUARY: Paul Foulger (1928-1995)

by Madelyn D. Garrett

Paul Foulger, conservator and historian, was a gentle and unassuming man who, nonetheless, quietly influenced the course of library preservation in its earliest years. One of the first members of AIC, Paul modestly refused the honorary title of fellow that early membership conferred, believing such recognition was undeserved. Those who knew him best believed otherwise.

Paul's interest in preservation began over twenty-five years ago, while working as librarian in the historical department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. Faced with the task of preserving a large collection of rapidly deteriorating nineteenth-century materials, Paul began his education in the new field of conservation, first training with Colton and Nancy Storm. Nancy Storm remembered Paul as one of the best students she and her husband ever taught. Paul received further training at Britain's India Office, as well as with Paul Banks and with George Cunha, who would later recall that while he had expected to train a beginner, he soon realized that Paul's hand skills were already first rate.

Paul was not only a talented bench conservator, but an organizer and conduit for conservation and preservation information in its formative years. When the NEDCC decided to enter the field of preserving microfilm, George Cunha turned to Paul for help. Paul, through his many contacts within the Mormon Church, then a leader in the field of microfilming, facilitated the necessary contacts.

Paul developed an extensive and well-indexed system of information filing and retrieval, so essential to a program of preservation. Paul was not content to gather information for his own use; his innate generosity led him to offer to others all the information he had compiled. Craig Jenson, BookLab, Inc., remembered Paul as the first person to encourage his interest and training in conservation, not only introducing him to the larger problems of library preservation, but also showing him how to make his first box. Today, BookLab is a leader in the fields of hand edition binding, preservation photocopying, and conservation repair.

But it was within his own state of Utah that Paul made the most lasting impact. In the early 1970s Paul was the nucleus around which local and state preservation and conservation crystallized. In 1977 Paul organized one of the first library conservation laboratories in the United States at the University of Utah, training a series of apprentices in library preservation. He extended this training to other Utah institutions, providing training and information throughout the state, including nearby Brigham Young University, which later established its own preservation program. Paul was the driving force behind the Utah Preservation Consortium, organized in 1987 for statewide preservation emergency response and information sharing. He also founded the Utah Conservation Association, a state guild of practicing conservators.

Library preservation, nourished from its earliest years by the quiet efforts of Paul Foulger, owes a debt of gratitude to this talented conservator. Paul would have declined this honor, as he had so many others. But his friends and colleagues will remember him not only for his kindness and generosity, but for his quiet dedication to our field.

Madelyn Garret is at the University of Utah, where she was a book conservator for a number of years and now works as a rare book curator.

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