PAPER COMPLEXITY AND THE INTERPRETATION OF CONSERVATION RESEARCH
PAPER RESEARCH IS difficult to conduct, interpret, and judge due to the composite structure of paper and the variability due to each sheet's prior history. Each sheet of paper is unique in its physical and chemical properties and its response to testing those properties.
There are many ways of obtaining information in conservation, from single observations to shared information among colleagues, and from mock-ups stuck in windows to full research projects. All of these approaches are valid and can give significant information within the the context of their specific limits. Much of our information is of necessity based on limited observations, and always will be because of the nature of conservation and the many unknowns that can never be repeated or simulated for a major research endeavor. However, many of our current treatment practices such as water bathing, enzyme use, deacidification, and bleaching are based upon published research which requires careful review. The topics discussed in this paper should assist in critically reviewing results of paper research projects and the provided interpretations. It is important that research projects related to paper conservation have the involvement of people with expertise in material sciences research. This background is necessary for proper research design, choice of test methods and instrumentation, and for insightful interpretation of data.
I AM GRATEFUL to the National Museum Act for funding my attendance at the following courses at the Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, Wisconsin: Pulp and Paper Physics, Dr. Baum; Pulp and Fiber Analysis, Dr. Litvay; Pulp and Paper Testing, Dr. Waterhouse. Dr. William Wilson, National Archives, has tirelessly edited this paper and taught me a great deal about paper as a material and paper testing. John Krill, Winterthur Museum, has been both encouraging and supportative contributing thoughtful direction and comments. Dr. Jonathan Arney, Mead Paper Research Division, has patiently edited, commented, and supported my efforts through many drafts.