Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Contact paper is not an archivist's tool

Before Ol' Myrt here unceremoniously deleted a reader's valid email, along with the usual SPAM, I noted in the preview screen that the request went something like this:

"I am getting an old family bible rebound with a new cover. The first pages have lots of family notations in pencil, but some pages have deteriorated and are in pieces. The bookbinder suggests using contact paper to keep things from falling apart."

AAACK!!! I am thinking you mean that clear contact paper that is normally used to line cupboard shelves. CERTAINLY NOT!

PLEASE understand that a regular book binder isn't necessarily an archivist.

There IS a type of paper used by trained archivists that looks like very thin tissue paper. It is low acid, and requires skill to use without further damaging the pages in question.

1. MAKE SURE your book binder is a member of The AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ARCHIVISTS, or is recommended by your state's archivist. Each state HAS an archivist, and some counties, such as Sarasota County, Florida have archivists that work in historic preservation positions with the government.

2. CAREFULLY MAKE PHOTOCOPIES of these precious family pages so they won't need to be handled unnecessarily.

3. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT PRESERVATION of family heirlooms, including study at these sites:

-- Library of Congress' "Preparing, Protecting, Preserving Family Treasures"

-- North East Document Conservation Center's "NEDCC Offers Hints for Preserving Family Collections"

-- A great Source for preservation materials (including an acid-free box for storing your family bible) see:

-- Northeast Document Conservation Center's "Supplier's List"

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)

DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy

Snail Mail Address:
227 Bellevue Way NE PMB 544
Bellevue, WA 98004

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