Sunday, April 17, 2011

Newspaper Clippings

CCAHA Conservator
Rebecca Smyrl with folded
newspaper clipping.

Nowadays we simply link to a newspaper article in an e-mail.  All you have to do is click.

But back in the old days, things were a little more complicated.  If you wanted to share a newspaper article with a friend or relative living far away, you might purchase an additional newspaper, cut out the article, fold it down to envelope size, and enclose it with a personal letter.

When rooting through old letters preserved in their original envelopes, you never know what you may find.  In our family collection, I’ve run across buttons, tickets, photographs, and clipped articles, all stashed in their original envelopes.

Rebecca Smyrl, Conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, recommends extreme caution with the initial examination of a folded newspaper clipping.  “The paper degrades faster at the folds,”
she warns.  “Only unfold the clipping if you’re
Folded newsprint that had been
enclosed in an envelope from
the 1960s.
confident that the paper will hold together – without breaking at the folds.”

Once the letter is unfolded, it’s best to leave it flat rather than attempting to refold it.  “Ideally, these pieces should be stored flat in non-acidic folders and boxes,” Rebecca notes.  “The creases will flatten over time.”  While the creased areas will always remain weaker than the rest of the paper, their deterioration will be slowed.  (See the earlier blog entry “Preservation Tips for Letters” for more information on flattening paper.)

Rebecca’s recommendations for storage are the same as for the newspaper preservation discussed in last week’s blog entry “Closets and Other Storage Options.”  But this raises another problem…  This storage option separates the clipping from its original context – the envelope and the letter.  As a solution, Rebecca suggests making some sort of record of the clipping (a copy or a detailed note) to store with the original letter and envelope.  Just don’t use post-it notes, she cautions.  Keep those adhesives far away from your historic documents!

© 2011 Lee Price

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