Course:3: Processing
Lesson:Lesson 3: Preservation
Topic:Loose Paper
 

Loose Paper

Handling 

  • Support the records on a stable surface when they are being moved.
      
  • Remove the entire folder from a box before looking for an individual document.
      
  • Do not lean on or write on top of records.

Processing Tasks

Unfold items that are folded; remove items from envelopes. Use a “bone folder” to smooth out folds. These are available through archival supply companies. If the fold won’t “unfold,” don’t push it! Call a conservator or professional archivist before proceeding!


Resources icon

The National Archives provides a handy list of  do's and don'ts in document handling. Click here.

NEDCC's site offers Removal of Damaging Fasteners from Historic Documents. Click here. See also Surface Cleaning of Paper. Click here.

 

 

 

 


staple remover with "x" through it
DON'T EVER USE A STAPLE REMOVER!

 

 Remove paper clips and staples.
staple removalstaple removal

 

 

 

 

Use a “spatula” to lift the staple back and front. These are available through archival supply companies.

 

Stapled or paperclipped groups of documents can be held together using inert plastic clips.
Fastening papers together with plastic clips

 

 

plastic clips
 Here's a closeup of  plastic clips.

 

If the materials are dirty, use dust brush to gently remove excessive dirt and dust.
dust brush

 

 

 

 

Refolder using alkaline, archival quality file folders. Select appropriate sized folders that are larger than the documents.
archival quality folders

 

 

Definition icon

Alkaline: A substance whose OH- concentration exceeds its H+ concentration, imparting a pH greater than 7.

 

Folders should not be overfilled.
Properly filled folderoverfilled folder


 

 

 


 

The folders above left are properly filled; the folder above right is too full.

 

Tip icon

Try not to put more than 1/2 inch of paper in a folder.

Label folders using Number 2 pencil.
labelling folders

#2 pencil

 

Place folders in archival quality, alkaline boxes. placing papers in box

 

 

Boxes should be full, but not packed tightly. The box below is packed too tightly – see how it bulges and causes the documents and folders to bend.
too-full box

 

 

Note any badly damaged items and place them in separate folders to protect them.
document burned at edges

tip

If the damage is caused by mold, mildew, or mice/ insects, remove the item and check with a professional before you put it back in with the other documents!

 

 

 

Do not use pressure-sensitive tape for mending.
damage to document through use of tape

Resources icon

To learn more about mending, see "Repairing Paper Artifacts," by Sherelyn Ogden, Head of Conservation, Minnesota Historical Society. Click here.