Newspapers are designed to survive long enough for readers to enjoy the day's news, but they can be preserved for future generations.
"The main thing to remember is that light is the enemy," said Augusta Museum of History Director Nancy Glaser, who recommends the use of inert materials -- such as commercially available Melinex or Mylar sleeves -- to keep the fragile paper intact.
Ironically, some of the oldest newspapers are the most durable when it comes to long-term survival, according to the Library of Congress, which has its own extensive guide to preserving newspapers.
Before the mid-1800s, newspapers were printed on paper made from cotton rag fiber. Many of these newspapers, even dating from the 1700s, remain in excellent condition and will survive for generations to come. Production of rag paper was expensive, however, and the 19th century brought forth technology for cheaper production of paper.
By the 1880s, most newspapers were published on paper produced from wood fibers using other ingredients that promote deterioration. Moisture and extreme dryness can also damage or destroy old newspapers.
Here are other tips from the Augusta Museum of History on preserving newspapers or clippings:
- Store sleeved newspapers in an acid-free box or folder.
- Display a copy rather than the original, if possible.
- Do not hang near a heating or air-conditioning vent, radiator, fireplace or open window.
- When getting a newspaper matted, first put it in an inert sleeve, then ask the framer to use Japanese tissue and water-soluble paste when mounting paper to a hinged matboard configuration.
- Use buffered, acid-free mats and ultraviolet light-resistant plexi or glass for covers.