Balancing preservation and access is a key function of the archival and rare book professions. The Bentley Rare Book Museum (BRBM)’s copy of the Declaration of Independence is one of the most prominent items in the collection. The copy was printed in 1843 based on the copperplate engraving commissioned by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in the 1820s. Five hundred copies of the 1843 printing were completed, and now, less than half still exist.
The Bentley Rare Book Museum possesses one of these rare copies; however, the preservation needs of this document heavily limit its use. Specifically, the document is in critical need of mending and requires an inert backing to protect its paper from further deterioration. Enhanced conservation treatment from experts at the Northeast Document Conservation Center or another comparable vendor will stabilize the document and prepare it for wide public engagement. Once conservation treatments are complete, the BRBM will facilitate in-person and digital outreach programs including exhibitions, online modules, and presentations that feature the Declaration of Independence copy and promote its historical significance to the public.
Gifts of $100 or more will be thanked with eight personalized bookplate labels for your personal library.