When historic events occur, readers instinctively want to preserve the memories. Newspapers rush to print extra editions to keep up with the demand. The challenge for new collectors is to guarantee a long shelf life for their mementos.
The Newseum’s curatorial department preserves more than 35,000 historic newspapers and periodicals in its collection — some dating back to 1526 — and knows a thing or two about how to make sure these newspapers are protected for years to come. Here are answers to the frequently asked questions our curators received in the aftermath of the historic 2008 Election Day.
The most important safety tip is to make sure the newspapers are not exposed to light. Light damage is cumulative and irreversible. Avoid handling the newspaper as much as possible.
No, not home or kitchen wrap. We recommend three ways to preserve your newspaper.
These products are not readily available in stores and can be purchased online through archival suppliers such as Gaylord Brothers, Light Impressions, Archival Methods, and Hollinger/Metal Edge. The products are expensive, but they will ensure that your newspaper is protected for a very long time.
The storage environment for newspapers should be moderate, without extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Closet shelves are a good home option for storing newspapers. Attics and basements are less than ideal spaces for archival materials because of temperature and humidity variations.
Do not store the unprotected newspaper with or next to other acidic materials such as wood, cardboard, notebook paper, etc.
Framing is OK, but it’s important to keep newspapers away from sunlight, moisture and insects. Use conservation quality glass or acrylic that filters out harmful UV light. Even if you use UV-filtered glass, do not place the framed newspaper in a sunny area. Make sure that the matting or backing is 100 percent cotton fiber — cotton rag matboard — and preferably buffered. Never place the newspaper on a cardboard backing. This will result in rapid deterioration. Most custom frame shops will have these materials available, so you may not have to buy them online.