From: How-to History <howtohistory@substack.com>
Sent: 12 June 2024 07:01
To: icnewsletters48@gmail.com
Subject: Storing Documents

 

At home

͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­͏     ­

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Storing Documents

At home

Jun 12

Guest post

 

 

 

Many people have historical records at home; such as letters, photographs, and official documentation. These collections can be damaged by a combination of factors including damp, mould, insects, unsuitable packaging, and handling. All materials are damaged by light, both artificial and natural light with the worst being  ultraviolet light. Low-grade papers such as newspapers and posters degrade quickly and become brittle, especially if exposed to heat and light. Photographs, which can be on glass, plastic, paper, or metal supports,  require special care. Their emulsions are very absorbent and delicate.

Personal and family archives therefore require protection and passive preservation can be undertaken by anyone. However, active conservation and remedial work should be done only with the advice and guidance of a qualified conservator.

For the safe storage of archives, a constant temperature within the range of 13-18º C and 45-60% Relative Humidity (RH) is recommended. high or low RH and temperature are damaging, supporting the growth of mould, microbiological activity and development of acidity. Conversely, low RH will dry out and make brittle the cellulose fibres within paper. In practical terms this means finding a cool dry place for your documents. In most homes particularly modern houses, this might be a bedroom, spare room or dining room which has only background heating most of the time. Preferably not a cellar, loft or outbuilding. Constancy in storage conditions is essential as fluctuations in temperature and RH are also damaging. Store your documents in a stable environment and avoid extremes.

All items should be kept out of direct sunlight. If items must be displayed, then ultraviolet filters help reduce damage; fitted to windows and lights. Curtains and blinds can also help to reduce exposure.

Proper archival storage materials provide support for fragile items and protection against light, dust, careless handling and damage during transport. Material in contact with an original item should always be of archival quality and acid-free. Products will not be of archival quality unless specifically stated. Approved suppliers should supply details of their products’ chemical and physical properties. Some suppliers are listed at the end of this post.

A box of historic documents © Joe Saunders

There are some key mistakes to avoid. Do not  use self-adhesive photograph albums, traditional photograph corners or polyester pocket albums are best. Do not  use newspaper to wrap documents or to line shelves and boxes as they  can be highly acidic. Do not  use wooden boxes as the oils and adhesives in these can be acidic. Do not  use polythene or plastic bags, PVC. plastic envelopes and files. These all contain plasticizers and chlorine which release harmful chemicals as they degrade. Do not  use frames that have poor quality mount board or are backed with wood. Never under any circumstance use any form of pressure sensitive tape, even so-called safe tape on archival material.

Some important things to do if possible. Keep newspaper cuttings separate from all other material. Ideally, they should be stored in separate acid free envelopes. Always remove any rusty paper clips or staples. Store documents and photos flat to help prevent distortion, though consider rolling large items around the outside of an archival quality tube. Store items individually in acid free envelopes or folders. Use plastic sleeves made from archival grade polyester. Polyester is ideal for single unfolded sheets as the item can be viewed without removal from the protective sleeve. Store books in acid free boxes or wrap them in acid free dust jackets to prevent further damage. Use acid free tissue paper to interleave between pages of volumes with colour plates to prevent off-setting or blocking. Protect prints and drawings in their frames by placing a sheet of UV filter material over the face of the glass (not the drawing). Filter sleeves can also be placed over lamps/lights used to illuminate objects. Keep prints, drawings, and water colours in individual acid free folders, and store them flat in a box.

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References and Resources:

Information for this post was taken from, ‘Caring for your family papers’, Staffordshire County Council, https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/Heritage-and-archives/services/DocumentOwners/Caring-for-your-family-papers.aspx

National Preservation Office, http://www.bl.uk/npo

The Institute of Conservation, http://www.icon.org.uk/

Archives and Records Association, http://www.archives.org.uk/

Preservation Equipment Ltd, http://www.preservationequipment.com/

Conservation Resources UK Ltd, http://www.conservationresources.com/

Secol Ltd, http://www.secol.co.uk/

Conservation By Design Ltd, http://www.conservation-by-design.co.uk/

Storing Documents

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A guest post by

Joe Saunders

Joe is a freelance historical researcher, writer, and teacher,

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