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New Scientist magazine - Newspaper and Magazine preservation
"The principal factors contributing to the deterioration of paper are
oxidation and acid hydrolysis caused by chemicals it contains.
oxidation of lignin, the component of the cell walls of plants which
widely present in paper, is what turns newspapers yellow.
Meanwhile, the cellulose fibres are cut by a reaction involving heat
acids, which turns the paper brown and brittle. To prevent these
keep the newspapers cool, dark and dry.
The folders and boxes you keep your newspapers in should be made of
material, to prevent acid migrating into the paper. Interleave the
with acid-free paper and encapsulate it with polyester film or Mylar.
use ordinary plastic or vinyl because these contain solvents and
that can migrate into the paper.
There are sprays and solutions available that prevent paper turning
and yellowing. The deacidifying solutions Wei T'o, Bookkeeper and
Mist all contain methoxyl magnesium methyl carbonate. Impregnating the
with these alkaline solutions neutralises existing acids and inhibits
You might also wish to deacidify old newspaper clippings. A recipe for
this is to dissolve a milk of magnesia tablet in 1 litre of soda water
let it stand for eight hours, then pour the mixture into a glass or
container. Do not use aluminium pans. Soak the paper clippings in this
hour and hang them out to dry completely. Make sure you test the ink
clippings to make sure it won't run, before using this method. You
change the solution when it turns yellow."
Preserving Newspaper Articles Remedy
The following tip was published in the November/December 1997, issue
of Louisiana Roots:
"There is a home-style "bleaching" process that will help counteract
the acid in the newspaper. It's the acid that causes the paper to
yellow over time. When done correctly, the simple "bath" should keep
your newspaper articles from turning that old, yellow color. It is
supposed to work for up to 50 years.
Make the magic solution by mixing two tablespoons of milk of magnesia
with one quart of club soda. Then refrigerate it for eight hours.
Next, put the mixture in a shallow pan wide enough to hold the largest
clipping. Lay one clipping at a time in the liquid and let it soak for
an hour. When the time is up, remove the clipping and place it between
several layers of paper towels to remove the excess moisture. Then dry
on a clean flat surface, such as a piece of fiberglass screen
(door/window screen) under the clipping so it will not stick."
Family Tree Magazine Frugal Scrapbooking, Newspaper Safeguarding and
Scrapbooking Q&A: Clip Jobs
"Q. How can I include newspaper clippings in my scrapbooks?
A. Acidic newspaper rapidly yellows and gets brittle. Worse, placing a
clipping in your scrapbook can cause acid migration (the transfer of
acid to surrounding materials, hastening their deterioration). One way
to prevent this is to use a color photocopy in your album and store
the original. If you must use the actual clipping, first deacidify it
with a spray such as Archival Mist. You can also neutralize the acid
in a newspaper clipping with a mixture of two tablespoons milk of
magnesia to one quart soda water. Let the mixture stand in a shallow
container overnight, then soak the clipping for one hour. Carefully
remove it, pat with paper towels and let dry flat. After we tried
this, an acid-testing pen showed the clipping was indeed acid-free.
This process won't completely prevent deterioration, but it does slow
it down. You may not want to use it on old, fragile clippings to avoid
Library of Congress Frequently Asked Questions
How can I preserve my newspaper clippings?
"Newspaper is made from wood fibers and it will turn dark and brittle
very quickly, particularly when exposed to light. Although it can be
chemically treated to slow down further deterioration, many of the
treatments will also darken the paper. Newspaper will damage other
paper or photographic materials with which they are stored if the
other items are not protected from them.
The only way to preserve the original is to store them properly:
Place clipping in a polyester film folder with a sheet of alkaline
buffered paper behind it.
Put the polyester folders in file folders and boxes of high-quality
acid-free, alkaline buffered materials.
Store in a cool and dry location, such as a closet in an
"I am interested in preserving and mounting for display selected pages
from a newspaper that is approximately 50 years old. The paper is
somewhat yellowed but in otherwise good condition.
I would strongly advise you not to exhibit newsprint as it contains
lignin, a material that is highly photo-sensitive. Newsprint will
darken significantly if exposed to light for any period of time and in
any degree of light intensity. I recommend that you have high quality
photocopy facsimiles made and display them instead. Good photocopy
equipment, especially in commercial shops, such as Kinko, can now
produce very credible copies of even large format materials."
Archives and Manuscripts Processing Manual
"Newsprint, manila paper, and construction paper are extremely acidic.
They darken with age, become brittle, and stain any papers with which
they come in contact. Documents printed or written on highly acidic
paper include newspaper clippings, telegrams, carbons, copies on
thermofax paper, and school writing tablets.
Text on highly acidic paper should be photocopied onto acid-free
paper. However, quantities of newspaper clippings of secondary
importance, for example, would be too time-consuming to photocopy.
Separate the clippings from other paper documents into their own
folders. Photocopy any item that is badly deteriorated or on poor
quality paper. Letter size, legal size, and oversize acid-free paper
is available. Discard the original item unless it has value as an
artifact, for exhibition, or is handwritten. Such items are
encapsulated in mylar with a sheet of acid-free paper as a
neutralizing backing. Sometimes a photocopy of a brittle encapsulated
item is also made and researchers are encouraged to use it instead of
Light, Heat, Humidity, Acid!
These are the enemy to your archived treasures.
"Like the newspaper clippings, consider copying photos and putting the
COPY on display, while preserving the original as carefully as you
NEVER put photos and newspaper clippings (or other high-acid items) in
the same plastic page protector. And always use an archival quality
backing sheet to mount everything on. Usually you won't want to use
colored backing, except for very light colors - even if the package
says "acid free." The bright or dark colors may be a problem due to
the dyes involved. Usually, only the light tans, light greys, etc.,
are able to be truly archival quality."
To preserve newspapers, photocopy (i.e. "Xerox" copy) onto archival
quality paper, and thus album copies would be pretty safe to be
examined. At the same time, get some Wei T'o or Bookkeepers spray to
deacidify the newspaper. It's a bit costly, but well worth it if you
really want to preserve the items. Put the originals away in archival
quality plastic sleeves/page protectors, in the dark.
The following text is adapted from the Jim Lyons book, "Collecting
NEWSPAPER AND DOCUMENT CARE & PRESERVATION
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