The Book and Paper Group
The American Institute for Conservation

Fungal Deterioration of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Documents: A Case Study of the Tilghman Family Collection, Wye House, Easton, Maryland

by Hanna Szczepanowska and R. Cavaliere

Presented at the Book & Paper Group Session, AIC 28th Annual Meeting, June 8-13, 2000, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Received for publication Fall 2000.


Iron chests containing eighteenth- and nineteenth-century documents stored in a cellar of the R. C. Tilghman and E. Lloyd estate, Wye House, Easton, Maryland, were periodically submerged in water during seasonal floods over a period of eighty years before being found and re-opened. The documents stored in the chests were compacted into brick-shaped forms as a result of biological deterioration by fungi. The fungi, which produced vibrant pigmentation and fruiting structures, suggested a number of species rarely seen on the paper-based collections. Isolation and microscopic examination revealed four species representing members in the genus Chaetomium (Ascomycetina, Sordariales). These cellulytic fungi are tentatively identified as C. barilochense, C. brasliense, C. cymbiforme, and C. globosum. In addition to these, several conidiophores bearing conidia belonging to the genus Penicillium and the genus Aspergillus were also noted.

A full test report of this research appears in the reference cited below.


Szczepanowska and A. R. Cavaliere. 2000. Fungal deterioration of 18th and 19th century documents: a case study of the Tilghman Family Collections, Wye House, Easton, Maryland. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 46(3):245-249.

Hanna Szczepanowska
Maryland State Archives

R. Cavaliere
Gettysburg College

Publication History

Received: Fall 2000

Paper delivered at the Book and Paper specialty group session, AIC 28th Annual Meeting, 8-13, 2000, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Papers for the specialty group session are selected by committee, based on abstracts and there has been no further peer review. Papers are received by the compiler in the Fall following the meeting and the author is welcome to make revisions, minor or major.