Recession forces historians to make do

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The Civil War flag that was brandished by the 42nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry is wrapped tightly around its pole. It's a delicate task to unfurl the almost 150-year-old banner without it crumbling.

Yet, the humidity-raising chamber used to loosen the material consists of a homemade aluminum frame covered with a plastic-like film. It was built with parts from Lowe's that cost less than $500. The work is being done in a warehouse and in a homemade chamber instead of with state-of-the-art equipment costing as much as $20,000.

With the recession tightening its grip, budgets being cut and donors drying up, preservationists are scaling back on restorations.

The Ohio Historical Society is trying to preserve much of the Ohio Adjutant General's battle flag collection -- 552 flags carried in five wars. Most earlier preservation was carried out in the 1960s and to date, only 18 flags have been preserved using updated, more costly techniques paid for largely by private funds.

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