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The Christopher Clarkson Knowledge Base - West Dean College

Christopher Clarkson was well known throughout the conservation community and beyond. During his career he worked for the Library of Congress, Walters Art Museum, The Bodleian Library, Oxford, West Dean College, and as an independent contractor he worked with numerous archives and libraries. He was part of a team involved in the conservation of manuscripts after the 1966 floods in Florence. Crucially, he shared his knowledge in numerous lectures, articles and books around the world. He died in 2017 leaving project files, lecture scripts, practice notes, pictures and videos which provide a wealth of informaiton for book conservators. Clarkson was partiuclarly important because he was an innovator and advanced the discipline.

The TNA Team working through the Christopher Clarkson archives
His archive represents an important contribution to book conservation knowledge. In partnership, West Dean College, The National Archive Collection Care department and Kartography CIC have performed an initial survey of the archive materials and aim to present a small case study to illustrates the value of the collection as a whole. We are currently seeking funding to continue the work and make it available in a community knowledge base which can be expanded over time and be link to modern conservation practices and theory.

The long term strategy is to draw out practical conservation information building a library of methods and techiques. These will be linked to real case studies with appropriate notes and these examples expanded over time with relations to other knowledge bases, including the TNA system. These will then also be linked to historical Information providing a historical context for the work, but also talk to current conservation and its overall progression.

Items from a Clarkson commission from the Wordsworth Trust

The National Archives are currently working on an in-depth limp parchment binding survey which will be integrated in the future knowledge base as template for recording archival binding structures

Blog by Kat Williams

Click here to learn more about the TNA Limp Parrchment conservation program