This month I have had the privilege of working on a scrapbook which belonged to British nanny Kathleen Churchill Wanstall (MISC 98). It is a small treasure trove of First World War ephemera from Austria and Germany.
The album contains: postcards, labels, letters, stamps and tickets and also small objects such as commemorative badges and finger rings made by Russian prisoners of war.
Hanging from a safety pin at the bottom of one of the pages is a folding fan printed with the portraits of 16 Austrian Field Marshals and Generals and tucked in the back is a picture storybook called “Lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein! Ein Kriegsbilderbuch mit Knüttelversen, Mainz 1914” [Dear Fatherland may you be peaceful! A War Picture Book with Simple Rhymes] by Arpad Schmidhammer.
Thankfully, the album is in very good condition. Often scrapbooks are over-stuffed and the adhesive has stained the contents but in this case, apart from some metal corrosion and some surface dirt, the contents are in good condition, so the main priority was to package it in a way that makes it easy to display without causing any damage through handling. The fan, the storybook and the two official documents from the front of the album were removed and packaged separately. All the pages were cleaned with a latex sponge to remove surface dirt.
The creases in the loose documents were humidified and pressed out.
One of the rings and the little box of grain were tied down so that they wouldn’t flap around when the pages were turned. The photographs on the back of the storybook were protected from fingerprints with polyester sleeves and a box was made for the album.
This particular type of fan is called a brisé fan which is used to describe fans that have sticks which widen, held together with ribbon to form the main part of the fan rather than thin sticks with folded paper or fabric attached. Most damage will occur to the fan as it is opened and closed so a mount was made so that it could be stored open. This will ensure that it is always ready for display but not under any strain. The mount was made from layers of thick paper carefully measured and stuck together to make a stepped support. The fan was laid on top and held in position with three thin strips of polyester.
At the moment we know very little about Kathleen, other than she is believed to be a distant relative of Winston Churchill who worked as a nanny in Germany during the First World War and who went on to be a nanny to the royal family of Monaco.