For Archivists and Government Officials
Salvaging Family Papers : The Basics
- If paper or books are damp then air drying is best.
- Use cool low humidity area to spread out documents to aid drying. Sunny days will help air these also.
- Use paper towels as blotters to put between items.
- Get air flowing around the items as much as possible.
- Rinse mud away if necessary, In example of books hold the book closed do not scrub the items but gently agitate in rinsing.
- Partially damp books can stand on the top edge fanned open to air dry
- Very wet books can be interleaved with paper towels about 20% of the books to draw out water.
- Books and paper can be frozen by wrapping in wax paper and calling conservators later. This will reduce mold development until items can be dried carefully.
- Dry warped books or wrinkled paper can be pressed flat at a later time.
- Photographs can also be air dried emulsion side up, but must be separated.
- Remove from plastic or paper enclosures.
- Carefully rinse away mud or debris away with clean water if necessary.
- DO NOT blot photo surface emulsion.
- Use wax paper to separate photos.
- Can be frozen if necessary for a conservator to complete salvage.
Tennessee State Museum
Updated December 12, 2014