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Preserving Newspaper Clippings

For many people, newspaper clippings are a significant part oftheir personal heritage. There are several approaches you cantake.

One premise to remember is that newsprint is not intended tolast a long time. It is highly acidic, full of lignin, and willyellow and become brittle quite quickly.

Make a Copy
One very viable option is to make a photocopy on high-qualityacid-free off-white paper. Using off-white makes the copy lookmore like the original. Most readily available copy papers arefree of acid and will last a very long time.

Use a deacidifying spray
There are a couple of deacidification sprays on the market thatcan be used to neutralize the acid in your clipping. The mostcommonly used is Archival Mist or Bookkeeper from <ahref=”http://www.ptlp.com”>Preservation Technologies, Inc.

Dip it
You can make a “dip” of milk of magnesia and club sodathat will neutralize the acid in the newsprint. This method isclaimed to preserve the life of the newsprint for 200 years. Thisrecipe gives instructions from two versions I have found:

  1. Mix club soda with milk of magnesia. (One recipe recommends 2 tablespoons of milk of magnesia to 1 quart of club soda. Another recipe recommends 1 tablet of milk of magnesia to 1/4 cup of club soda.)
  2. Allow the solution to sit in the refrigerator overnight or at least for eight hours before using.
  3. Pour the solution into a shallow pan that is large enough for the clipping to lay flat and be immersed in the solution. Soak only one clipping at a time.
  4. Soak the clipping in the solution for 1 hour.
  5. Carefully remove the clipping from the solution and place between layers of plain white paper towels. Pat gently to help remove moisture.
  6. Remove the clipping from the paper towels and leave it to dry on a clean, flat surface. Allow the clipping to dry completely before moving it again.

Don’t just laminate
If you laminate an acidic newspaper article, the acid in thenewsprint will still turn it yellow, even though it isencapsulated in plastic. If you feel that you really want itlaminated, deacidify it first with the special spray or the diprecipe.

Cover your bases
As newspaper clippings can quickly become priceless, it isrecommend that you don’t take any chances with those preciousmemories. Ask your friends and relatives for extra copies of theclipping. Try a different preservation method on each copy –make a copy of one onto acid-free paper, dip a copy in the milkof magnesia solution, laminate a copy after you deacidify it. Ifyou take the extra steps now, you’ll be sure to have one or morecopies for many, many years to come.

Documenting on the back of photographs

If it will be a while before your photos are neatly andcreatively documented in an album, perhaps you should considerwriting some key information on the backs of the photos.

What to write: Begin with the who, what,when, where, why, and how. Is there also a quotation that goeswith the photograph that you don’t want to forget? You don’t haveto write complete sentences. Just get the thoughts documented sothat you won’t forget.

What to write with: The relative merits ofvarious writing utensils have been debated from time to time. Youwill be introduce to several options here. You can pick whicheverworks best for you.

  • Blue Stabilo Pencil — This pencil, available from various sources, contains a soft blue waxy lead. Because it is soft, writing with it will not “dent” your pictures. However, the softness also means that it may rub off on other photographs or papers that the pack of the photo comes in contact with.
  • Soft Graphite Lead Pencil — Pencils are safe for writing on the back of photographs, but they may dent the photo. Choosing a pencil with a very soft lead will allow you to write gently on the backs of the photographs without leaving dents.
  • Pigment Pen (soft tip) — Since most pigment pens have soft tips, they can be used to write gently on the back of photographs without leaving dents. Since the pigment ink is permanent, your notes will last as long as the photos themselves. I recommend choosing a light color such as brown just for extra safety.
  • Photographic Pen — Photographic pens are designed to write on smooth surfaces, such as negatives and plastic, and still dry quickly. Because these inks dry quickly, you don’t have to worry about the ink from one photo rubbing off on another photo it is stacked on top of.

No matter what utensil you choose to write with, it isrecommend writing on the edge of the picture. By doing so, yougive yourself some extra insurance just in case the writingcauses damage such as dents. If you have only written on theedge, you can possibly crop off the area that had been written onwhen you are finally ready to put the photograph in an album.