St. Marys County Genealogical Society

Preserving Paper

  • DO-Keep your historical documents (old letters, marriage records, birth certificates, pension records, deeds, and  family papers) in a climate controlled environment.
  • DO-Store your historical records in acid free folders in an acid free box.
  • DO- Keep your treasured records away from sunlight or other UV light sources.
  • DO-Remove paper clips, rubber bands, staples and other wrappings prior to placing in acid free housing.
  • DO-Label your folders and boxes in pencil only - you can't  erase a stray ink mark!
  • DO-Gently unfold any documents whenever possible (without causing damage to the folds).  If the paper is inflexible or brittle, do not unfold and seek professional help from a conservator.
  • DO NOT- Write notes on your historical documents.  You can make a copy of the original and use the copy fro notes.
  • DO NOT-Use post-it notes or other adhesives like tape on your historical documents. It leaves a residue behind.
  • DO NOT-Keep newspaper articles next to your historical documents; it will stain and damage your documents.
  • DO-Photocopy newspaper articles onto acid free paper for long-term storage.  Discard the originals or store them separately. Newspaper is highly acidic and breaks down quickly.
  • DO NOT-Laminate your records.  Lamination is irreversible and over time the item will disintegrate within the lamination.
  • DO-Place badly damaged items in a separate folder and seek professional assistance from a conservator.  The problems of one item can spread to the others if housed together.