Preservation

How can I preserve an important edition of a newspaper?

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. See: Where can I get conservation help? and How can I get some important documents that I own repaired?

When newspapers or clippings are valued most for the information they contain, and not as artifacts, copying the information onto a more permanent quality paper should be undertaken. Photocopies will far outlive newsprint when stored under normal conditions. See Archival Copies of Thermofax, Verifax, and Other Unstable Records.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

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