Adopt a Piece of History

In April 2009, the library established the Adopt a Piece of History program, which is managed by our Special Collections and Archives department. This program allows members of the Friends, and friends who are not members, to adopt a book or manuscript in Special Collections that is in critical need of repair.  Adopting patrons may also choose to make a partial donation toward a particular item. Recognition is given to those who donate toward specific items: mention on the “Adopt” page, a notice in the Friends publications and a special dedicatory plate to accompany the restored item.

For a list of available items for adoption, and to see items already adopted and restored, go to the Support the Library page.


Example of an adopted and restored itemLetter by George Washington

washington letter restoredFor every alumnus and friend of Washington and Lee, the story of George Washington’s generous and timely benefaction to Liberty Hall Academy in 1796, is one of those pieces of history that define the character of our great University. Likewise, the letter from Washington to the Liberty Hall Board of Trustees, dated June 19th, 1798, in which he thanks them for renaming the school Washington Academy in his honor is one of the University’s signature cornerstone documents. In spring 2014, that remarkable single-page letter underwent a complete restoration by the Etherington Conservation Services of Greensboro, North Carolina. The conservation treatment involved the removal of cellulose acetate lamination (applied in an earlier conservation treatment) and aqueous deacidification. Repair work to the folds using Japanese tissue paper and a linen case pamphlet enclosure with leather label completed the work.

A generous donation from J. Thomas Touchton ’60 and Lavinia Witt Touchton in honor of Farris Pierson Hotchkiss ’58 covered the cost of the restoration and rehousing.

For additional information, contact Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections and Archives, per email or by phone (540-458-8649).