project
 

TECHNIQUES

     

Blood Sampling and DNA

 
 

ASSEMBLE THE FRAGMENTS
Pieces of the flag are carefully moved into their proper location. UV filtering Mylar and PH neutral tissue protect the flag and help hold fragments in place after repositioning.

CLEAN THE SURFACE
The Preservation Pencil, an ultrasonic humidifying tool, is used to clean painted areas and to introduce controlled moisture which allows the fabric to be repositioned.

REMOVE PREVIOUS TREATMENTS
In 1894 and 1904 gauze was sewn into each side of the flags. Over time it deteriorated and became soiled. This has to be cut and carefully removed a stitch at a time.

 

 

TAKE A PARTICULATE SAMPLE
A low velocity vacuum is attached to a sterile end chamber which is then moved over the surface to pick up particulate matter used for further study.

PROTECT WITH STABILTEX
Stabiltex, a very expensive micro-fiber, is heat-fused and then sewn around each flag fragment without penetrating the fibers. This will protect the flag from more damage.

VACUUM THE SURFACE
The flag is gently vacuumed to remove dust, surface debris and soot. A fine screen is placed between the vacuum nozzle and flag to prevent any damage to the fragments.

 

Conservators check for the presence of blood by taking a sample from the flag for testing.

A fast and reliable presumptive test for blood identification at crime scenes. The Heme-Stix test, is a self-contained packet, consisting of two glass ampules inside a plastic tube. A positive presumptive reaction to blood will yield a deep blue color.

Samples from the blood stained flag pictured here were sent to the Iowa Department of Public Safety's Crime Lab. It was hoped that the DNA contained in the samples would match a male descendent of James Elson or his brother – who would carry the same “Y” chromosome DNA as their father. A great-great nephew was located and agreed to give a DNA sample for testing. Regretfully the flag’s DNA material was too degraded from years of exposure and natural decomposition to provide a viable sample.

DNA confirmation would have been exciting; however it is not necessary to document the flag. Many eye-witness accounts exist.

RESOURCES

pdf file Conservation Journey Family Activity

pdf file Fibers Up Close