Preserving and Archiving
your Old Documents

Preserving and archiving your old documents is an important process that has become easier. 

When you have been fortunate enough to receive  old family documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates handwritten letters, newspaper cuttings, old scrapbooks and other valuable items, I am sure you will want to know how to ensure these documents can be kept in good condition for many years. 

You may not want to use these in your scrapbooks but you may still want to prevent the originals from deteriorating any further.

Preserving your family's papers requires safe handling practices and proper storage. They will last longer if they are stored in a stable environment. The National Archives (USA) recommend that documents are stored at 60 to 70 degrees F, 40 to 50% relative humidity and in an environment with clean air and good circulation.

High heat and moisture will accelerate the discoloration and degradation of the paper. They should not be kept in an attic or basement.

Light, especially that which has high proportions of UV (ultraviolet) light can damage paper. Flourescent light and natural day light have high proportions of UV light and can degrade the chemicals in the paper and the ink.

Papers should be stored in a folder, box or portfolio that are acid-free and lignin-free. These will provide protection from light and dust.

There are a number of products on the market that can be used to deacidfy paper and other items.

These products contain microscopic alkaline particles that are either sprayed on to the paper, or the paper is dipped into the alkaline solution. This buffer solution neutralizes the acids in paper by blending with the paper structure.

Papers that have become brittle due to age can not be deacidified as the paper has lost its strength and can not be reversed.

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