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Handling and Care of Family Materials

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Handling and Care of Family Materials

I am a professional archivist and I can help provide the education required to efficiently and accurately uncover, document, and preserve family histories to maintain their place in our cultural heritage. If you have questions about the handling and care of materials you have, or may have, please share them here.

Members: 6
Latest Activity: Jan 19, 2014

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General Questions about care and handling

Well, I thought I'd get the ball rolling here. I'm a professional Archivist with about 8 years of work and training. I want to help everyone to make their genealogical and family history material…Continue

Tags: documents, photos, family, conservation, preservation

Started by Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana Sep 13, 2012.

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Comment by Deb on January 19, 2014 at 9:37pm

I just now seen this post. Sorry for the delay. Thanks for getting back with me. I'm going to do the tips you suggest, first being digitize them. Thanks for the suggestions.

Comment by Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana on December 20, 2013 at 5:13am

Hi Deb!  Newspapers can be a treasure trove of information, but unfortunately newsprint has, throughout history, been made of the wood pulp and is highly acidic. Why does this matter? The amount of acid is what causes newsprint to become brittle and yellow over time. Here are a couple of suggestions to help you:

1. Handle them as little as possible and support them when you do. This means if you do have to handle them, use something sturdy like a file folder underneath them; don't try to hold them in your hands as they may just crumble.

2. Digitize what you have. Believe it or not, as an Archivist, when I have very delicate, faded, or damaged materials, the first thing I do is take a digital image with a digital camera/smartphone or scan them (if they're not too delicate). This ensures that the information held within the them doesn't goes away.

3. Check with your local library to find out if the newspaper is available digitally to get a copy on acid free paper. Again, this ensures that the information available remains and I've found, when researching an article I was given, that there are others that pertain as well. (This happens sometimes, but not always)

4. Store them in BUFFERED tissue and or boxes. This is the opposite advice from my usual saying 'acid-free', but in the case of highly acidic newsprint and anything that is an animal by-product such as leather and/or wool items, the buffering agent helps to stop the acid (think about it like Pepto-Bismol for your materials!) You can still store them in acid-free folders, but use the buffered tissue in front of and behind each article.

5. Unfold them (very gently) and store them flat, in an archival box away from temperature and humidity extremes. This goes for ALL your genealogical material. If you're comfortable in a space, your material will be comfortable there. I often suggest a hall closet (not on the floor) away from light and extremes in temperature. 

It seems like a lot, but it's really not. Just unfold the paper (if it's whole) or in the case of individual articles, use buffered tissue in between them and store them in an archival box. These items are NOT expensive and can be purchased through Archives Suppliers such as Hollinger Metal Edge, Gaylord, and University Products. For under $20 you should be able to get what you need. If you're not able to, or don't need an entire box of archival folders, I often suggest finding a genea-buddy or contacting your local genealogical society to find someone else who might be willing to share the cost. 

I hope this information has helped you, Deb. I also have articles about protecting and preserving materials on Archives.com; check them out! Don't hesitate to ask other questions if you have them!

Laura

Comment by Deb on December 19, 2013 at 10:03pm

What is the best way to store old newspaper clippings? I have some that I received from my father that are very valuable to our family. They have not been well cared fore. They are turning brown and feel very fragile. What do you suggest?

 

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