Saving family treasures: Conservators advise on preservation

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Pasquotank County resident Margaret Jones and her husband, J. Wilson Jones, show a book from her family penned long ago that includes Currituck County history. The couple brought the book to Museum of the Albemarle on July 13, to get preservation advice from a state conservator.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Margaret Jones has a family treasure she wants to preserve.

Along with a number of items passed on to her over the years is a large book that family member penned long ago in longhand. "It’s all about Currituck County," Jones said of the contents.

“It’s just beautiful,” she said.

Jones and her husband, J. Wilson Jones, who are Pasquotank County residents, recently brought the book to Museum of the Albemarle.

There, a pair of conservators from the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh were offering to local citizens free advice and expertise on preserving family treasures. Their visit was part of a statewide celebration of Conservation Assistance Day.

"They're telling us how to take care of these old things," Margaret Jones said.

Of her book, she said, "It has been in the bottom of my mother's cedar chest for years." She said the book remains priceless in her heart and said she would love to see a copy made.

The couple was specifically assisted by Conservator Jennifer French, whose expertise is in objects.

Margaret Jones said she received information about different people to call for additional future help.

Wilson Jones said the experience at MoA was quite good, saying French is both knowledgeable and pleasant.

"She can talk the talk, if you will, and I think she can walk the walk," he said.

The other conservator who came was Paige Meyers, whose expertise is in textiles.

Jessica Cosmas, a collections specialist at MoA,, said the two conservators held about 15 individual appointments with local residents during the day-long program held July 13.

Cosmas, who joined MoA in December, said such other goodwill outreach initiatives have been done in the past. She said the idea is for citizens to be able to learn techniques so they can take care of their collections so they can pass them down to younger members of their family.

That way, she said those younger generations can continue to learn and have a connection with their ancestors.

Cosmas said citizens brought a variety of items, including a leopard rug, books, drawings, old firearms and old knives.

Conservator French said she believed the program had been going well.

"I quite enjoy my conversation with our patrons," French said. "They give us great information about where their objects are coming from, their family history and the history of North Carolina."

Although she is from the state history museum in Raleigh, she spoke of the satisfaction of getting the opportunities to drive to sister museums such as MoA.

"And we can get to disseminate this knowledge to our wider audience – and I get great pleasure out of that," she said.