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  Archiving and preserving vintage newspapers

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Author Topic:   Archiving and preserving vintage newspapers

Posts: 374
From: Lansing, MI, USA
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 06-12-2012 10:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gonzo   Click Here to Email Gonzo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just received the first page of the LA Times, dated 21 July 1969. It's not in the greatest of shape, but I'd like to archive it to prevent further deterioration. There's great news on both sides, the front page and page two, so I'd like to be able to see both sides somehow and keep it flat and protected to preserve it.

Anyone have any suggestions on how to do this?

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-12-2012 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The National Archives offers the following advice:
Newspaper preservation is a challenge because newsprint is an inherently unstable paper. Formulated to be inexpensive and expendable, newsprint is manufactured with large percentages of unpurified wood pulp which contains impurities that remain in the paper after processing. These impurities, when exposed to light, high humidity and atmospheric pollutants, promote discoloration and acidic reactions in the paper. Acidity causes the paper fibers to weaken and break, and is the major culprit in causing the paper to become brittle.

When newspapers are valued as artifacts, preservation requires a stable environment: 60-70 degrees F.; 40-50% relative humidity (RH); protection from light; and storage in non damaging materials. Newspapers should be stored flat, protected within a rigid box or folder. Special newspaper size boxes and enclosures are available from conservation suppliers. Added protection may be provided by interleaving the newsprint with thin sheets of alkaline buffered tissue, also available from conservation suppliers. Never laminate or use pressure sensitive mending tape on papers you want to preserve. If papers need to be relaxed or tears repaired, seek conservation services from a qualified professional.


Posts: 1571
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 06-12-2012 10:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Further to Robert's post a search for document preservation brings up the following on newspapers:

Since newspapers are made of highly acidic paper and deteriorate so quickly, you should always photocopy the information you want from them onto acid-free paper. You can then store the original paper in an acid-free box, or mount clippings in an archival scrapbook. Clippings could also be stored in acid-free file folders, interleaved with acid-free paper. If you want to frame the clipping, you should frame the acid-free copy rather than the original clipping.

A search for document preservation battle creek brings up at least one local supplier. Good luck.


Posts: 374
From: Lansing, MI, USA
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 06-12-2012 11:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gonzo   Click Here to Email Gonzo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the suggestions guys. It looks like the best option is to interleave it with buffered paper and put it in a large storage box, laid flat. Then keep it in a controlled environment (like the shelf in a closet), away from direct light.

And as far as finding these supplies in Battle Cree, Michigan, there's nothing close. I'll have to do some digging or searching on the internet to find a supplier for these things (like these boxes).

Just thought it was worth preserving if I could. Didn't pay much for it though.

Pat Gleeson

Posts: 44
From: Limerick, Ireland
Registered: Aug 2009

posted 06-14-2012 03:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Pat Gleeson   Click Here to Email Pat Gleeson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Originally posted by Gonzo:
Just thought it was worth preserving if I could. Didn't pay much for it though.
It's how much it's worth to you that's important, isn't it? The fact you have the forethought to do this means there's a chance of preserving some history. That will make that document very important to someone in the future.


Posts: 2024
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 06-14-2012 05:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is like asking what to do with a great bottle of wine. You could store it in a dark cellar at a regular 55 degrees F and keep it as a collector's item. Or you could drink it and enjoy it as was intended by the wine estate.

Likewise with old newspapers: you can store them in perfect conditions and make sure nobody ever handles them or exposes them to the light. Or you could periodically take them out and read them and appreciate their historic content and the link with the past.

My mother kept several papers headlining the death of King George VI in 1952 and the Queen's coronation in 1953. It is fascinating reading these papers so many years later. My mother also kept papers covering the assassination of President Kennedy. Reading them always fills me with an overwhelming sense of history and tragedy.

I have kept (and acquired) newspapers covering every major event in space history. Many of them are yellowing with age and showing signs of wear and tear, but to me those imperfections are simply an indication that these papers have been read, re-read, studied and admired. I treat them with care, but I don't seal them away in permanent darkness.

Enjoy your historic papers. Take them out every now and again and read them with care. You will appreciate them all the more. They won't last forever, but they will probably outlive you, so put away the kid gloves and dare to handle them with your naked fingers.


Posts: 374
From: Lansing, MI, USA
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 06-14-2012 07:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Gonzo   Click Here to Email Gonzo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a great response. Very well thought and moreimportantly, not just poignant but also absolutely correct!

While I do agree with preserving history as much as reasonably feasible, it is there for two reasons. First and foremost to tell us where we've been. But also to show us where we're going. That's the part some seem to miss sometimes.

That being said, history will do nothing for us if we don't study and learn from it. And the only way to do that is to look at it. Which is exactly what intend to do with my paper. While I do plan to take reasonable actions to protect it, I don't think it's good to become attached to it either. It has a purpose. And as long as that purpose is served as it should be, then there's no worries.

It is what it is. It wasn't meant to last forever...

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