Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft recently returned an original copy of the state’s 1865 Ordinance Abolishing Slavery to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) after it underwent treatment in the Missouri State Archives’ conservation lab.
The event, held on the front porch of the Teubner-Husmann House in Hermann, was also attended by Missouri State Parks Director Mike Sutherland.
“We’re thankful to the Department of Natural Resources, State Parks and the Deutschheim State Historic Site for allowing us to borrow this historic document,” Ashcroft said. “It was an honor for our office to repair and conserve this piece of Missouri history ahead of the state’s upcoming bicentennial.”
The Ordinance was one of the first items discussed during Missouri’s 1865 Constitutional Convention in St. Louis. Introduced and approved on the same day, Jan. 11, 1865, only four of the convention's 64 attendees voted against its passage. Unknown to many, its approval came three months before Congress proposed the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which, upon ratification on Dec. 6, 1865, abolished slavery nationwide.
DNR loaned the Ordinance to the Missouri State Archives, a division of the Secretary of State’s Office, in September 2020 for it to undergo treatment ahead of its display during the state’s 2021 bicentennial commemoration.
Conservators removed the document from its frame to clean its surface of any dirt, detach it from an acidic matting and wash it in a series of alkaline baths to eliminate acid that had leached into the paper over time. This not only improved the Ordinance’s appearance, but also improved its flexibility and established a buffer to neutralize future acid formation. All tears were then realigned and holes mended with Japanese tengujo tissue for extra stability.
To learn more about the conservation of this document, view a short video available here: www.facebook.com/MissouriSOS/videos/2883314125238173. For additional background on the Ordinance itself, visit the Missouri State Archives’ Guide to African American History, found at www.sos.mo.gov/archives/resources/africanamerican/guide/image005c, or contact the reference staff at email@example.com.