For decades, Betsy Ross’ Bible sat open to the same page inside the narrow Arch Street row house where she is said to have sewn the nation’s first flag.
On the exposed paper was the Ross family tree, written in script but rendered illegible in places, a faded and discolored victim of humidity, heat, and the sun’s damning rays.
By the time Lisa Acker Moulder joined the historic house museum as collections manager in 2000, the Bible, published in 1791, was in such fraught condition that Moulder stashed it away in storage, displaying it only for the few days in 2015 that Pope Francis was in town.
Soon, though, the Bible will re-emerge refreshed after a six-week stay at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Center City and return to its home, where it will be put on limited exhibition.
The $11,000 preservation project came of a partnership between Historic Philadelphia, the private nonprofit that operates the Betsy Ross House, and the American Bible Society (ABS), an organization that has been promoting the Good Book for the past two centuries. In 2015, ABS moved its headquarters from New York to Fifth Street in Philadelphia, near Independence Hall, where the organization is building a new museum themed to the role of faith in American history.