Preserve paper documents
Birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, diplomas,
deeds, maps, journals, letters are just a few of the types of paper documents
that have family history significance. Most of these items were printed on
acidic paper that contained lignin (used to bind the wood pulp together).
Store them flat in
archival enclosures (pass the PAT) with buffered paper inserts. The buffered
paper will counter-balance the acid in the paper.
Newspaper since 1830 has been printed on low quality paper
with high acid content. Take care to keep it away from other types of
documents, photos, and film. If the newspaper has potential historic value, you
can deacidify it for safer and longer storage. Store original newspaper
clippings flat, rather than folded, in polyester folders with alkaline-buffered
inserts. No pressure-sensitive tape, not even if it’s labeled “archival."
The best way to preserve newspaper clippings is to make a
high-quality photocopy. Use paper and ink that are PAT compliant. Or, borrow
the method used by libraries and museums—make microfilm copies. Afterward, they
destroy the original newspaper. Use a single-lens reflex camera and zero-focus
lens to take a photo of the clipping and have it processed on microfilm.
Whichever method you use, be
sure to record the origin details of the article—newspaper name and date. Use
PAT material for that as well.
How to deacidify newspaper clippings
- Make an archival
quality photocopy first.
- Practice with
similar sized, new newspaper clippings.
- Mix 1 capful
milk of magnesia with 1 bottle club soda (1 liter).
- Store sealed
overnight in the refrigerator
- Pour solution
into a rectangular glass baking dish.
- Carefully place
the clipping into the solution and leave for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove and place
between white print-free paper towels & gently blot.
- Remove wet clipping and place between clean, dry paper towels with a
weight on top. Let sit overnight.
“Preserving Family Papers” National Archives
“United States Newspaper Program” Library of
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Copyright September 2009 Family History Coach. All rights reserved Last update April 27, 2010