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East Carolina Conservation Laboratory
Department of History
279 Flanagan Building, East Fifth Street
Greenville, North Carolina 27858
Phone: 252-328-6587 Fax: 252-328-6754
Email: Department of History

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Battleship North Carolina WWII Map Project

The Battleship North Carolina has an extensive collection of World War II artifacts, documents, and memorabilia associated with the USS North Carolina. Among the thousands of items is a map depicting the island of Iwo Jima during WWII. The map is a three dimensional relief map used for training purposes.

Rubber has what conservators refer to as an "inherent vice", meaning that the rubber the map is made from is causing its own deterioration. Rubber requires very special conservation considerations. The map underwent conservation at the conservation lab to insure its long term survival for future study and appreciation. It was placed into a custom made exhibit case that has an oxygen free atmosphere with special UV filters to prevent further deterioration.

Iwo Jima Map Conservation

A-_Initial_InvestigationThe object was wrapped in many layers in order to prevent any harm coming to the object during transportation.The map showed signs of cracking (top left), sinking (top right), paint loss and delamination (bottom left) and organic residue (bottom right).When the reverse side of the map was examined an acquisition sheet was found. It provided the provenance and history of the map as well as an acquisition date.The first layer of the reverse side of the map was carefully detached.The second layer of paper on the reverse side of the map was suggested by a paper conservator. This technique worked very well and allowed us to reveal writing that was not originally visible.Map supports were developed to further the life of the object.The surface of the map was treated with a cleaning and portions that had been delaminated and had loss their paint were restored.The final step in the process was the construction of a plexiglass mount for the map which would prevent oxygen from reaching the map and further degradation.


East Carolina University hosted a public viewing of the map at Joyner Library after its completion in 2011. It was the 66th anniversary of the landing at Iwo Jima in 1945. Presentations by Department of History faculty and the Joyner Library special collections staff were also made.