Reply To: Preserving Old Newspapers

Dean DeBolt

Here in the West Florida History Center we have the holdings of some 200 newspapers from 1821 to present with active subscriptions to some 30 newspapers in the Panhandle region of Florida. I get questions all the time about saving old newspapers. The crux of the problem is whether you need to save the newspaper at all. For example, a photocopy on acid-free paper would serve for clippings. Are you thinking of exhibits? Color digital reproductions work great, too. We store our newspapers in 17 in x 23 in. acid-free boxes in our controlled stack area. In same cases, we do have acid-free interleaving, but again it will depend on whether the paper already exists on microfilm or another form before we spend a lot of staff time and resources to ‘save’ the paper. We did have some full page newspapers that we wanted to preserve. First we painted them with one of the solutions available to archivists that deacidify newspapers. In the case of already darkened papers, this does not change the darkening, but stabilizes the paper. At that point, and we were doing exhibits, we encapsulated them in Mylar, but again all this comes back to what is your purpose in keeping the paper?

Dean DeBolt
University Archivist / University Librarian
West Florida History Center and University Archives
University of West Florida Libraries, Pensacola 850-474-2213
Facebook: West Florida history Center