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Saving Your Newspapers Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Posted by lynne in newspapers.
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Sadly, nothing lasts forever but these tips can help your treasured newspapers last longer.

We all have newspaper issues or articles we’d like to save for years to come. Unfortunately, newspapers are printed on acidic paper not meant to last very long, and modern newspapers use color inks that fade over time.

To help save your newspapers, follow these tips.

  • Store the newspaper in an acid-free box big enough that the issue can be unfolded and stored flat.
  • Put a piece of tissue paper between the pages, at every third or fifth page. Be sure to use buffered tissue paper, which has an alkaline coating that will absorb some of the natural acids of the newsprint. Change the tissue paper every three to five years. The acids in the newspaper neutralize the buffering in the tissue so it has to be changed periodically.
  • Store it in the dark. Exposure to light harms the paper and the ink colors.
  • Don’t display the newspaper. If published before 1923 you can make a copy to display.
  • Store the box in the best indoor environment you can provide. A good environment with steady temperature and relative humidity year round is the best assurance that your treasures will last as long as possible.
  • Handle it with care. When you touch it, make sure your hands are clean. Keep it away from food and drink. Turn the pages carefully so they don’t get torn. If the paper is old and has become brittle, perhaps it is time to stop handling it.

Do an internet search for the term ‘Archival supplies’ to find companies that sell acid-free newspaper boxes and buffered tissue paper.

These companies also sell a spray that will deacidify paper. Consider carefully before trying one. The National Park Service cautions that these sprays can darken some papers, can change the color of some dyes, inks or papers, can cause staining or cockling and can make some inks run. And, they won’t make old paper less brittle or less discolored and don’t permanently remove acidity. If you decide to try one, test it first on a less valuable document or in an inconspicuous place. Read the instructions carefully and think about the ventilation in the room where you are spraying.

Other resources:
Preserving newspapers, from the Library of Congress, Preservation Directorate
Collecting newspapers, from the Connecticut State Library
Resources for private and family collections, from the Northeast Document Conservation Center

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