Using near-IR spectroscopy, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, and micro-X-ray fluorescence to learn about this document's condition
The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, more commonly known as the Jefferson bible, is a volume created by Thomas Jefferson containing passages he chose from the four Gospels of the New Testament. Jefferson cut these passages out in four different languages and pasted them on to blank pieces of paper which were then bound into a book for his personal use. A team of four conservators has been tasked with documenting the current condition of the volume, formulating a conservation plan that addresses identified issues, and carrying out an ethical and appropriate conservation treatment to ensure the book can be viewed and enjoyed by future generations.
Knowing what materials Jefferson used when he made The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth helped conservators predict how the artifact would change over time. Observations made during a visual examination and survey of Jefferson's volume were empirically confirmed by more detailed material analyses, and the results from these tests helped conservators determine what conservation treatment would be most beneficial for the volume.
Conservators took microscopic samples of the twelve different types of paper, ten different kinds of ink, and two different adhesives present on the volume's pages. Sampling locations were carefully chosen to not interfere with printed or written text or to alter the aesthetics of a page. For example, samples from Jefferson's handwriting ink were never taken from intentional writing locations, but rather were taken from stray splashes of ink along a page margin. The sample sizes, measured in units of one thousandth of a millimeter, ranged from 20 to 200 microns -- they were so small, that they were nearly invisible without the aid of a microscope.