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“Janderized” — The Story of the Markings and Maimings of an Austin “Mister” in the GLO Archives

In the 1930s, the United States began to reckon with the large-scale threat that age presented to the voluminous historical record created by governments and agencies at the federal, state, and local levels. Competing remedies and innovations arose to counteract this threat. One approach, known as the Barrow Method, sandwiched documents between two pieces of cellulose acetate (a plastic-like substrate similar to camera film) by using heat and pressure to bind the parts together.[1] Texas was slow to adopt the Barrow Method, however, and it didn’t become widespread in the state until the 1950s. In the meantime, the GLO hired an elderly retiree who had a reputation in Austin as an authority on rare fabrics and textiles. His name was Harry G. Jander, and as the GLO came to find out, he was not all that he claimed to be.

Harry G. Jander in his home at 2400 Sabine. (Nolan Borden, Austin American-Statesman. March 3, 1959). AS-59–22006, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Not much information is known as to how Jander came to work at the agency, but his role was intended to include the preservation of historical maps and documents in the GLO’s Archives. During his seven years working at the GLO, Jander treated an unknown number of maps and documents using a self-devised method. A small write-up on the wire service which resulted in statewide coverage of his method noted that “He has concocted a glue-like mixture which experts at the U.S. Bureau of Standards have tested and found very effective in preserving paper.”[2]

A subsequent profile of his work in the journal, Under Texas Skies, stated:

“The main part of Mr. Jander’s work is with old documents, letters, newspapers, maps, photographs, and parchment. The finest grade of nylon gauze is applied on one side to give body and strength to the old paper and then the formula is applied on both sides.[3] Ink or oil may even be poured on the treated article and washed off readily with soap and water. Mr. Jander, who has a Doctor’s degree but who says he is just a plain ‘mister’, has preserved thousands of documents, maps, books, … Much of Jander’s work has been done in The General Land Office, where, for seven years, he repaired and preserved thousands of old Spanish land grants, ancient field notes, maps drawn by O. Henry …, the Texas Muster Roll a 500 page Volume[4] … and many other valuable books in that department.”[5]

At this same time, Jander had an exhibition of his collection of rare fabrics at the Texas Memorial Museum, about which the Austin-American Statesman claimed, “There is a breathless quality to silks, satins and linens worked by nameless artisans of the past some of the pieces shimmering with threads of 24-carat gold, and the artistry of color and design is entrancing.”[6]

Regarding Jander himself, the newspaper described him thusly:

“As a University of London graduate, Jander went into a shop to serve his apprenticeship in decorating. The work took him into Buckingham Palace now and then and led not only to the Queen’s gift [of a diamond ring] but something as enduring as the diamond itself — the memory of a gracious woman.” According to Jander, “Her majesty once asked me where I was from, and when I said ‘Texas,’ she inquired, ‘Cowboy?’ I explained about that and then she said, ‘Ah, yes, the Republic of Texas.’ I explained that Texas was a state now, and she listened with great interest.”

This anecdote immediately raises questions, mostly because it sounds like humbug. The final paragraph of his profile in Under Texas Skies, which was removed from a later version in a subsequent issue, makes some truly incredible claims:

“Articles treated with this special formula have been subjected to labortory [sic] tests of 185° heat and light fifteen times the power of sunlight, two hours of such accelerated aging being the equivalent of one year of actual time. A one thousand hour test, or 500 years of actual time, has been used on paper treated with Jander’s special formula for preservation and the papers so treated have suffered no sign of deterioration or change in legibility. The application of the formula to printed or written material actually increased legibility by from 25 to 50 percent. The formula, a clear liquid, is really Jander’s secret since three labratories [sic] have failed to analyze it properly. However, since Mr. Jander has used it for more than ten years and upon thousands of old and deteriorating paper documents, thereby putting new legilibity [sic] and pliability into the paper as well as preserving them for all time, it is considered by those acquainted with this highly specialized type of work to be one of the best paper preservatives now in use. Papers treated with Jander’s formula can be folded or rolled, and, if framed, do not need a glass covering for protection.”[7]

To modern archivists and conservationists, this description of his formula would raise eyebrows, to say the least, and the claims put forward for its efficacy would be met with outright derision.

Closeup of Jander’s calling card on the verso of a map before conservation at NEDCC. Byrd Lockhart, Connected Map of DeWitt’s Colony compiled from the surveys of Byrd Lockhart, ca. 1831–1836, Map #1942, Map Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

It should come as no surprise that the documents that Jander preserved with his “formula” suffered greatly. Over the years, they have cost the GLO tens of thousands of dollars in conservation treatments to undo the damage that was done. These “Janderized” documents, a term popularized at the GLO by Director of Technical Services, Susan Dorsey, are to this day easily spotted among the 45,000 maps in the GLO’s collection. Their trademark features include:

● The protective coating designed so that “silver fish, roaches, mice and all paper destroying insects or rodents shun paper treated with the formula as they would poison” had darkened to a rich brown color and become rigid and brittle.[8]

● Janderized maps bore a crisscross imprint of the nylon backing on the margins of the map and, in some cases, throughout.

● Jander used pinking shears to cut around the margins of maps and documents as seen on Lynn County Sketch File 12 below. Pinking shears are used, in appropriate circumstances, to prevent cut fabric from fraying.

● He affixed a pinking sheared note to the back or, if the document was small-format, occasionally wrote his name on it.

● A smell reminiscent of must, old wood, and chemicals.

[detail] W.E. Porterfield, Lynn County Sketch File 12, Map #30480, Map Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

Jander failed to deacidify the maps that he treated with his formula.[9] The result is that they were encased, embalmed if you will, where the acid inherent in the map itself was trapped between the nylon backing and the dried solution. Instead of dissipating, the acid ate away at the paper the maps were printed on.[10] The damage inflicted on these maps and documents negated whatever expertise Jander claimed to have had in the article that he penned in Under Texas Skies.

[detail, before (top) and after (bottom) proper conservation was performed on a GLO map] Tom Green County, Austin: Texas General Land Office, ca. 1888, Map #16901, Map Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.]

How Harry Jander was given free rein to work his formula on the historical records of the GLO is a question of credibility. Where did it come from? To answer that, we had to dig into his past and try to fact check his public statements.

One of the most oft-cited claims by Jander was that he was born in Palestine, Texas. In both public statements and in his civilian military file, Jander consistently counts Texas as his birthplace, when he was, in fact, born in Rockville, Indiana in 1882.[11] It is unclear when he and his family moved to Palestine, Texas. He remained in Palestine until his father died, and in 1911 he moved to Galveston where he took a job as a cashier at the Galveston Brewing Company.[12] In 1914, he pops up in Indianapolis as a bookkeeper before settling in his father’s hometown of St. Louis, Missouri in 1915.[13] Through city directories of St. Louis, we can see that Jander bounced around different clerical jobs before finding employment with Scruggs Department Store in 1921.[14]

During the war, while Jander was living at the YMCA, that organization was subsumed into the U.S. Army. Under the command of the Army, the YMCA functioned similarly to the USO by providing similar services such as canteens and recreational activities. In April 1918, Jander volunteered to go overseas with the YMCA. He traveled with the YMCA to France via the port of Liverpool as a civilian in September 1918[15] and returned to the U.S. in January 1919.[16] Though he would later claim to have met Queen Mary as an Army Sergeant, he was not, in fact, ever enlisted in the United States Army. For that matter, he didn’t even finish his assignment with the YMCA. As his YMCA punch card shows, Jander’s performance was deemed “unsatisfactory;” he did not receive a certificate or a “war book.”[17]

YMCA service card. A selection is indicated by the elongated cut between two small holes. For example, where the card reads, “Assn. Service Unsatis [assigned service unsatisfactory],” that designation appears to have been underlined.

His Registration Card dated October 9, 1918, further contradicts future public statements Jander made about his WWI service record throughout his life.[18]

Jander’s Selective Services registration card, dated October 9, 1918.

The third wave of the draft, enacted September 12, 1918, expanded the upper age range of draftees from 30 to 45 and compelled those who were not currently enlisted in the military to register.[19] Jander submitted his registration while active with the YMCA. On his draft card where it asks what, if any, previous military experience he had, he wrote, “none.” He was overseas with the YMCA when the War ended.

Returning to life in St. Louis working at Scruggs, Jander advanced to the position of decorator, the profession under which he was listed in the 1922 St. Louis city directory.[20] In 1931, at the age of 49, his position at Scruggs had changed from decorator to painter. The following year, he was listed as an interior decorator working out of his home.[21]

Auction notice placed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Feb 25, 1940. Mr. Donovan was, in fact, a real auctioneer.

In 1934, Jander moved out of the city and into the suburbs where he had his own interior decorating business. Newspaper articles from the 1930s record that he first lived in Grover, then Des Peres, Missouri, where he seemed to establish a stable life and business. He was active in local society and his business, though lacking a name, was referenced in newspaper articles from the time.[22,23] In 1940, however, the business closed, and Jander placed an advertisement in the local paper selling off all his stock by auction.[24] Later, an informant would claim, unsubstantiated, that Jander had left Missouri owing a year’s back rent on his business.[25]

From back in Palestine, Jander somehow convinced the administration of St. Edward’s University to hire him as an instructor in interior design for their new night school program in 1941. [26, 27] In 1942, he appears in the Austin city directory as a professor at St. Edward’s University and there are many newspaper articles in 1942 citing St. Edwards as Mr. Jander’s employer.[28, 29, 30]

Close up of article, “St. Edward’s Founded in 1871 by Rev. Sorin.” The Austin American, August 10, 1941. Jander could not be found in the “Columbia university alumni register, 1754–1931,” which includes attendees to the school that did not graduate.

However, by the fall semester of 1942, he was no longer employed by St. Edward’s, though he would continue to purport his affiliation with them in newsprint.[31] Jander continued to live on University campus housing throughout 1942 until there was a change in University administration. He was served an eviction letter the following year by new University President William Robinson.[32] Another informant later substantiated the fact that Jander overstayed at his place at St. Edward’s by a full year without paying rent.[33]

By the time he received that eviction notice in September 1943, Jander had already been transferred from Randolph Field in San Antonio to Bergstrom Air Field in Del Valle, just outside of Austin. At Bergstrom, Jander worked as a civilian employee for the military for the duration of the war. He started out as a general mechanic’s helper and was soon promoted to aircraft painter. He received a promotion in pay approximately every six months and on June 1, 1945, Jander was promoted to AC Painter & Doper.[34]

It was while Jander was living this unremarkable life (like most of us) that he created a parallel narrative about his past. Throughout the decades, Jander managed to amass quite a public record through notices in the St. Louis and Austin newspapers. The claims he made in print about his credentials built upon themselves over time. When he arrived in Austin in 1941, he was an educated WWI veteran. Five years passed and he claimed he was a sergeant in the U.S. Army during WWI who had adopted two French refugees as children. He suddenly had a master’s degree from Columbia University[35] and a Ph.D. from the University of London[36] and had worked at the famed Waring & Gillow furniture and decorator company.[37]

A character report issued by the U.S. Army described Jander as “peculiar,” “contentious,” and “somewhat of a prevaricator” with a “big mouth” who could “carry on a very interesting conversation.” It also contains testimony that Jander “carried on some shady business dealings along the lines of selling various articles of an antique nature at outrageous prices to uninformed buyers.”

Confronted with confident assurances that all those occurrences were true, is it any wonder that the administration of the GLO believed that they could trust Harry Jander?

The fictitious Jander and the real Jander collided with each other at the GLO, but the seeds for Jander’s preservation scheme began in late 1945. That year he was promoted to the position of AC painter and doper, which was a worker that applied “dope” to canvas to stiffen it and make it sturdy. While wet, this canvas was placed over the wooden frames of aircraft wings. Combined, the canvas, dope, and paint would make the airplane's wings strong and light enough to fly.

If you think it was hard for the authors of this piece to keep track of the many untruths Jander told the papers over the years, imagine how tough it must have been for Jander himself. A 1948 Austin American interview about his work with the GLO reads, “Jander took the [navigators] map and mounted it with aircraft ‘dope.’” Jander goes on to make claims that he would later refine regarding how the formula could not be analyzed and how it had been tested by the National Bureau of Standards. “In addition to the ‘dope’ it has seven ingredients, among them ether, concentrate of castor oil, sugar, salt, and sodium bicarbonate.”[38]

We used our connections through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to have the “unanalyzable” formula analyzed. Sarah Norris, the conservator at TSLAC came to the GLO and took a very small sample of “janderized” nylon from Lynn County Sketch File 12 (Map #30480). The sample did not contain any of the document itself.

The sample was sent to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts where it was easily analyzed. The results were that in addition to aircraft dope, the formula did contain castor oil. The big secret ingredient that Jander hid from all documentation was none other than pine resin. While pine resin can be used to make materials waterproof, the authors do not know exactly how it would have interacted with the aircraft dope.

Perhaps the greatest crime of all and the greatest disqualifier from all the claims to credibility that Jander ever made was that the main ingredient in aircraft dope is cellulose nitrate.

Cellulose nitrate is extremely flammable. Hollywood movies were shot on film made principally of cellulose nitrate. Poor storage of nitrate film led to many warehouse fires before the mass acceptance of non-flammable cellulose acetate film in 1951. It simply is not possible that an educated professional would have used a compound known to be flammable — even after drying — on paper documents. Using aircraft dope in a confined space on paper put both the archival holdings and GLO employees in danger (GLO employees could smoke tobacco products around collections material at that time).

Until recently no one knew that some of the extant maps at the GLO were encased in cellulose nitrate. Layfayette Caldwell, Surveyor, Plan of the C.C.S.D.& R.G.N.G.R.R, Unpublished, 1878, Map #64481, Map Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

Even the one thing that seems to be true about Jander — his collection of fabrics — is shrouded in fiction. The exhibit that was the source of the Statesman article that uncritically published some of Jander’s claims was housed at the Texas Memorial Museum on the UT-Austin campus. The curator of history at the museum, A. Garland Adair, was also the editor of Under Texas Skies, the publication in which Jander wrote about his method for preserving documents.

By 1959, the bulk of Jander’s collection had reportedly been split up and donated to “George Washington University” in St. Louis and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.[39] Some pieces went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York and a few to the University of London, where Jander studied “as a young man fresh from Palestine, Texas.”[40] Yet, in 1951, Jander corresponded with Henry Francis du Pont, a well-known collector of American decorative arts, asking if du Pont would be interested in his collection. Du Pont declined.[41]

In his will, Jander left the remainder of his textiles collection to St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin. He intended for the church to sell the collection and reap a windfall of between $25,000 — $35,000.[42] In the years after his death, parishioners tried to sell the collection to no avail. In 1996, a local architect with a degree in interior design and experience with textiles managed to have the collection informally appraised by some of her colleagues. The preliminary appraisal came in at $500, or $60 in 1962, when adjusting for inflation.[43]

[left] Detail of Jander Textile 22–04_1995. Caption written by Jander reads, “Woven in the Ming Dynasty of China. Over 100 figures per sq. ft. All silk. Pattern is reversible-either end appearing to be the right way of the design, a most interesting example of designing.” [right] Detail of Jander Textile NoID-04_1995. This item did not have any identification.

While working on this article, St. David’s offered the textile collection, in its entirety, to the GLO. We declined, but we convinced the conservation lab at the School of Information at the University of Texas to take the collection. Conservation professor Karen Pavelka agreed to take the collection to allow students to experiment on it. However, when we delivered the collection, Pavelka became the third person to try to place the collection where it would be appreciated and cared for because, frankly, some of the pieces are beautiful and intricate and in remarkably good shape.

Harry Jander was just as complicated an individual as anyone else. He wasn’t a bad person, though he did some bad things. He could be thought of as a man out of time, and class; he strived for something better for himself, though it was always out of reach for a person of no means and no pathway to get it legitimately.

Unsurprisingly, the number of documents that Jander treated at the GLO is significantly fewer than what he reported. Despite Jander’s claims to the contrary, Spanish land grants, the Muster Roll, maps drawn by William Sydney Porter (better known by his pen name, O. Henry), and “many other valuable books” were spared.[44] His tenure at the GLO and the markings and maimings on the documents he “preserved” presented an incredibly interesting opportunity for research at various institutions across the United States.

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[1]The goal was to encapsulate historical records to allow for easy handling within a protective covering that would endure forever. The earliest documents so treated were not deacidified first, however. The result was that the acids inherent in the paper and in some inks were trapped within the lamination, which accelerated the documents’ decay by decades. The process was adapted to include deacidification prior to binding the documents within the cellulose acetate, which left the documents in a stable condition. GLO documents that underwent this process included the deacidification process, so they remain stable to this day.

[2] Cooke, W. H., The Rockdale Reporter and Messenger (Rockdale, Tex.), Vol. 80, №16, Ed. 1 Thursday, May 8, 1952, newspaper, May 8, 1952; ( accessed February 8, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,

[3] Likely soluble nylon —

[4] Annual Report — Commissioner Bill Allcorn, 31 May 1960, Box 2, Folder 16, Commissioner’s Reports (ADP.CR), Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX. The Muster Roll is 310 pages and it was laminated in 1958, long after Jander had left the GLO.

[5] “Photographs, Papers and Parchments Preserved for Lasting Permanency By Special Formula and Technique.” Under Texas Skies 4, no. 8 (December 1953). 28.

[6] Barnes, Lorraine. “Collector denies Ming robe 1000 years old; only 800.” Austin American-Statesman, March 3, 1959.

[7] “Photographs, Papers and Parchments Preserved for Lasting Permanency By Special Formula and Technique.” Under Texas Skies 4, no. 6 (October 1953). 28.

[8] “Photographs, Papers and Parchments…”

[9] Barrow, himself, realized the need to deacidify before encapsulation in 1939. Roggia, Sally. “William James Barrow: A Biographical Study of His Formative Years and His Role in the History of Library and Archives Conservation From 1931 to 1941.” Phd diss., Columbia University, 1999. Accessed April 2, 2020,

[10] The production of paper made from wood beginning in the mid-nineteenth century involved adding chemicals to strengthen the final product. The paper became durable but would not last long. Seery, Michael. “Paper Conservation.”, ( accessed May 2, 2019), educationinchemistry.

[11] Civilian Military File. National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, National Archives and Records Administration, St. Louis, MO.

[12] Morrison & Fourmy’s Galveston City Directory. Galveston: Morrison & Fourmy Directory Co., [1911–1913].

[13] R. L. Polk & Co. Indianapolis: R. L. Polk & Co. City Directories, 1914

[14] Gould, David B. Gould’s St. Louis Directory. St. Louis, MO. [1915–1921]

[15] U.S., Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910–1939 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016. Original data: Lists of Incoming Passengers, 1917–1938. Textual records. 360 Boxes. NAI: 6234465. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Lists of Outgoing Passengers, 1917–1938. Textual records. 255 Boxes. NAI: 6234477. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, Maryland. (Accessed April 10, 2019).

[16] U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895–1960 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C.; Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895–1954; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787–2004; Record Group Number: 85; Series Number: M1464; Roll Number: 359. (Accessed April 10, 2019).

[17] “United States, YMCA World War I Service Cards, 1917–1919,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 1 March 2017), Jack-Justus > image 140 of 705; citing The University of Minnesota, Kautz Family YMCA Archive, Minneapolis.

[18] U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. Original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm.

[19] Michael Ray, “Selective Service Acts,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 11 May 2020, Accessed 12 May, 2020.

[20] Gould’s St. Louis Directory. St. Louis: Polk-Gould Directory Co., [1915–1932]; ( accessed February 8, 2019), St. Louis Mercantile Library, University of Missouri-St. Louis

[21] Ibid.

[22] “Keeping Cool by Suggestion Is Fine Art as Practiced by Expert on Interior Decoration.” St. Louis Star-Times, July 3, 1936.

[23] “Antiques for Sale.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 18, 1940.

[24] Ibid.

[25] War Department. “Loyalty and Character Report.” December 23, 1943. Page 3.

[26] “St. Edward’s Founded in 1871 by Rev. Sorin.” The Austin American, August 10, 1941.

[27] Morrison & Fourmy’s Austin City Directory. Austin: Morrison & Fourmy Directory Co., [1942–1955]

[28] “Beta Sigs Set Date For ’42 State Convention.” The Austin American (Austin, Texas), Feb 20, 1942.

[29] “St. Ed’s Faculty Man on Tour.” Austin American-Statesman (Austin, Texas), May 6, 1942.

[30] “Woman’s Club Invites Public For Zander (sic) Lecture Sunday.” The Austin American (Austin, Texas), Nov 19, 1942.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Robinson, William, Letter to Harry G. Jander. September 21, 1943. William Robinson Papers. Archives & Special Collections, St. Edward’s University.

[33] War Department. “Loyalty and Character Report.” December 23, 1943. Page 3.

[34] Civilian Military File. National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, National Archives and Records Administration, St. Louis, MO. Page 67 of 91.

[35] No record of Harry Jander exists in the Columbia University Alumni register, which also includes names of those that attended but did not graduate. Columbia University. Committee on General Catalogue., Fackenthal, F. Diehl. (1932). “Columbia university alumni register, 1754–1931.” New York: Columbia University Press. Accessed April 3, 2020,

[36] Beyond the impossibility of figuring out which University of London college Jander may have meant, we have accounted for nearly every year of Jander’s life through public records. At no time did he disappear from U.S. public records long enough to have completed a degree overseas.

[37] Waring & Gillow’s business records show that Mr. Jander was not employed by them. A good friend graciously visited the City of Westminster Archives Centre and looked through Waring & Gillow’s salary books (1911–1931).

[38] “Austinite Preserves Historic Papers With Secret Formula.” The Austin American (Austin, Texas), Aug 29, 1948.

[39] Washington University in St. Louis does not use “George” in its name, nor does it collect textiles. The George Washington University in Washington D.C. is affiliated with the Textile Museum, but only since 2011. This is indicative of the kinds of casual “untruths” Jander was fond of telling, which would fall apart upon closer examination.

[40] Barnes.

[41] Jander, Harry G. Letter to Henry Francis du Pont. November 1951. Antique Dealers Papers. The Winterthur Archives, Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum.

[42] Jander, Harry G. “Will of Harry Garnett Jander.” 6 Dec. 1961. MS. St. David’s Episcopal Church Archives, Austin, Texas.

[43] “Preliminary appraisal notes.” MS. St. David’s Episcopal Church Archives, Austin, Texas.

[44] “Photographs, Papers and Parchments…”



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