Photo Documentation

Title page: after treatment

Title page: before treatment

Last page: before treatment

Last page: before treatment

Text block: before treatment

Text block: before treatment

Paper case binding: after treatment

Treatment Record Documentation

Conservator: Xiaoping Cai

Date of Examination:  05/04/2017

Date of Completion:  05/12/2017

Title:  The confession of John Washburn (partner of Lovett, Jones, etc.): under sentence of death for the murder of Mr. Wm. Beaver, Cincinnati, Ohio, ordered for execution on the 6th day of January, 1837 / dictated by himself, and written by a fellow prisoner.

Author: Washburn, John, 1813-1837.

Imprint: Cincinnati : [s.n], 1837.

Owner: Law Library, Library of Congress

Call Number: HV 6534  .C5 W37 1837

LCCN Permalink:

Background Information:

This pamphlet is part of the Trails section of the Law Division at the Library of Congress. It includes a confession of John Washburn, the great robber and murderer, who was executed for the murder of Wm. Beaver, Cincinnati, Ohio on the 6th day of January, 1837.


There is an "LC" punch on the title page, indicating the ownership of the Library of Congress. There are annotations in graphite on the verso of the title page written: "Law" "LL 587215 Aple 40". There is an annotation in graphite on the recto of leaf 2 written: "MMF2&41". There are annotations in graphite on the verso of leaf 10 (page #22) written:"HV6534 .C5W37" "1837 COPY1 LLRBR" 41040919".



The pamphlet is an octavo format with two five-leaves sections stab sewn together at the spine edge. The pamphlet consists of two sections, with no additional covering material. According to the cataloging information, there should be 24 numbered pages. However, the pagination of this pamphlet ends on page 22 and the text is not complete. Besides, on top of the title page, there is a small strip of paper attached to its adjacent leaf, which suggests that originally it was a bifolio structure. The make-up of the section is illustrated in Fig. 1.

The pamphlet has a simple sewing structure in which the leaves of the pamphlet are held together by stabbing a cotton thread through the inner margin of the entire text-block. There are 12 sewing holes in total and the sewing pattern is quite random. The text-block is untrimmed and the size of the paper are various. The text-block paper is medium weight wove paper and is off-white in color. The title is printed on the first page in varied fonts and sizes. The text is printed in black printing ink.


Fig.1 Diagram shows the make-up of the section


This pamphlet is in poor condition overall. Although the original stab sewing is still stable, the papers throughout are damaged and discolored. Most of the spine folds are torn and the bifolio of leaf 7 and 10 has completely split into half. All of the pages have edge tears, abraded or folds around edges. Many pages have small losses, especially in the middle of the for-edge. There are some light brown stains and tide lines throughout the text-block.     


1. The paper will be surface cleaned with a soft brush and torn blotter edges.

2. The sewing thread will be cut off and the leaves will be separated.

3. Small folds will be flattened with a steam pencil and pressed under small weights.

4. The leaves will be washed in deionized water adjusted to pH 7.5 with calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) to reduce degradation products and the tidelines.

5.  The leaves will be alkalinized by washing in a bath of calcium bicarbonate (Ca(HCO3)2).

6.  Big tears will be hold in position with tiny strips of heat set tissue.

7. The bifolio will be rebuilt in the leaf caster with paper pulp.

8. The paper will be resized with methyl cellulose on a suction table and dried between felts.

9. Extra paper pulp infill will be trimmed from the margins.

10. Small strips of solvent set tissue will be removed with ethanol.

11. The text-block will be re-sewn in a concertina structure and also stitch through a paper case.


1. The pamphlet was disbound by cutting the sewing thread with a scissor. The remaining sewing thread was removed carefully with a tweeze.

2. The paper was dry cleaned with a soft brush and torn blotter edges, to remove loose surface grime.

3. Small folds and curled edges were humidified locally with a steam pencil, then they were unfolded and flattened under blotters and small weights.

4. The leaves were humidified inside a humidification chamber for about 30 minutes. Then they were washed by immersing in a bath of deionized water adjusted to pH 7.5 with calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2). The bath water was changed until discoloration was no longer seen in the water. Sheets of Holly-Tex were used to separate and support each single sheet of paper. After washing, the leaves were alkalinized by immersing in a bath of calcium bicarbonate (Ca(HCO3)2) for 20 minutes. The solution was prepared with 1.1g calcium carbonate per litter deionized water. Bubble CO2 gas was added to the solution until the powder is dissolved. Then the bifolios were allowed to air dry.

5.  Tears in the leaves, which might move during the leaf casting process, were tacked together with heat-set tissue. The bifolio of leaf 7 and 10 that had completely split into half, was tacked together at the spine fold to recreate a bifolio structure.

6. The bifolios were photographed on a copy stand, and the photos were manipulated to removed all color and text. The amount of paper pulp needed to fill the losses for each cast was calculated by counting black pixels in Photoshop.

7. The pulp slurry for the bifolio was prepared by mixing UICB White 1999 (hemp or hemp/cotton) dyed with Procion MX fiber reactive dyes (1% DoS), and undyed cotton. Details about the mixture for each cast was attached as appendix 1. The pulp slurry of fibre mixture was made in a kitchen blender, and guar gum (Polistini Conservation Material) was added as a formation aid.

8. The leaf casting process went as follows: A deckle box was made, which temporarily built up the walls for a smaller casting surface. Then the leaf caster was filled with water. Three layers of window screen, two layers of Holly-Tex, and a layer of Cokon (a non-woven material made of polyester, viscose, and cellulose) were placed over the plastic grate. The wet documents were laid out on the Cokon and another layer of plastic grate was placed on top. The vat was filled with water, the pulp slurry was poured into the bath, and the water was drained and the grate removed simultaneously. The cast sheets were blotted with Tek-Wipe and laid on a suction table where they were sized with 1% methyl cellulose. Then the sized cast sheets were dried between felts.

9. The cast bifolios were trimmed with a scalpel to minimized the amount of cast paper in the margins.

10. Small strips of solvent set tissue were removed with ethanol applied with a small brush. Tengujo was used for guarding the bifolio of leaf 7 and 10 with wheat starch paste, since the folding strength of the pulp infill is not strong enough.

11. Prepareation for rebinding: The bifolios were folded into two sections. The process of creating the paper case binding as follows: A concertina guard was folded, which was used to hide the open gap between sections. The ends of the concertina guard were extended the width of pages of the pamphlet and used as inner endleaves. Another paper was prepared as outer endleaves, z-folds were created at the hinge-folds to prevents the endleaves breaking at the joint easily. Griffin Mill early wove-cream paper (2014, 80gsm) were used for the endleaves. For the cover, the size was measured and paper was cut from UICB PC4 Flax Paper Case. Then the cover was folded at head, tail and for-edge to make the turn-ins, which reinforce the edges of the cover most likely to receive damage.  

12. Sewing: The first section was placed into the first valley of the concertina guard. Then the section and endleaves, as well as the paper case, were sewn as a unit with a pamphlet stitch over five stations. The second section was set into the second valley of the concertina guard. Again the section and endleaves, as well as the paper case, were sewn as a unit with a pamphlet stitch. All the stations on the outer endleaves and paper case were shared by the two sections. (See Fig. 2)

13. The turn-ins were held in place by interlocking tabs at the corners.

14. A new label was printed on Dove Grey paper, and coated with a layer of 5% methyl cellulose. Then the label was attached to the top-left corner of the left cover.

Fig.2 Diagram of the final structure