Preserving Paul Harris mementos from trip to Central, South America
Rotary members past and present hold Paul Harris in high regard for his role as the founder of Rotary and his vision for fostering friendship and international understanding. Rotary’s archives include letters and gifts from members to Harris during his lifetime that reflect this admiration.
Rotary International is committed to preserving Rotary’s legacy and honoring key figures in our history. We achieve this through building and maintaining an archive that accurately and effectively documents the history of Rotary. As part of this effort, archivists at Rotary’s World Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, worked with a professional paper conservator to treat four hand-crafted gifts to Paul Harris.
All four documents were spot cleaned using a dry process that reduces superficial dirt. Before being placed in custom storage mats as a preservation measure, the three items made of vellum underwent additional conservation work to stretch and flatten them after being rolled for an unknown number of years. Conservation of one document made of paper included mending tears with Japanese tissue paper and wheat starch paste.
In January 1936, Harris and his wife Jean embarked on a three-month journey to Panama and several South American countries, where they met with numerous clubs. Several members joined Harris, introducing them to local customs and people, and providing language assistance.
District Governor Cesar Andrade, of the Rotary Club of Guayaquil, Ecuador, joined them in Colombia and again in his home country. Jaime Linares of the Rotary Club of Lima, joined the Harris’ as they visited clubs in Peru and Chile, explaining that it would be an opportunity to practice his English. Rotarian Armando Pereira, who would later serve as RI President, accompanied them for most of their time in Brazil.
Three of the items featured here are mementos of that trip.
The conservation work was possible because of generous support from the Paul Harris 711 Club.
17 April 2023