Zoe Wilbour, daughter of renowned Egyptologist Charles E. Wilbour, was born in New York in 1864. Zoe split her time between the family’s home in Little Compton, Rhode Island, New York City, and Paris before her untimely death in 1885 at the age of 21. In 2005 a relative of the Wilbour family donated a large collection of Zoe’s personal letters to the Museum, which houses the Wilbour Archival Collection and the Wilbour Library of Egyptology.
Processing this new collection has been a component of my work as a Pratt Fellow in the Brooklyn Museum Archives. I began this work by crafting a processing plan, outlining the steps I will take while working through the collection, and making recommendations for the organization of the documents.
The collection contains letters pertaining to multiple members of the Wilbour family, as well as ephemera including menus, postcards, dried flowers, and even the remains of a bird’s wing! With input from Paper Conservators in the Conservation Department, as well as the Library Preservation Associate, we determined that the documents in need of conservation were safe to handle with a dust mask, safety glasses, and disposable gloves. I dry-brushed these documents into a HEPA vacuum to remove any remaining sediment, and the documents were then flattened and enclosed in Mylar. Over the past month I have been processing the collection, rehousing materials and creating the accompanying finding aid. Stay tuned for more updates!