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Newspapers have a high acid content that quickly causes the paper to yellow and become brittle.

Newspapers have a high acid content that quickly causes the paper to yellow and become brittle.

The Storage Areas

Preservation threats

While protection from larger environmental threats is the first line of defense for valuable records in the Archives, other harmful processes within the records must be addressed.

Acid: Beginning in the mid-1800s, paper manufacturing began using a wood pulp base and harsh chemical processes for bleaching. The wood pulp consists of short fibers that are inherently weaker. It also contains impurities and a high acid content that combine to cause the paper to deteriorate relatively quickly. In fact, many books and records less than 20 years old show signs of advanced aging due to high acid content. Newspaper print is an excellent example of the process. Ironically, some of the oldest records in the Archives--those dating to the 1840s and 1850s--are in better condition than many of the more modern records. The older records are on paper made from rags consisting of long fibers and bleached by natural processes.

Mechanical and chemical sources: Paper clips, pins, and staples cut through paper over time and often rust. Rubber bands deteriorate and damage the surrounding paper. Folded or tightly rolled paper can cause damage when the records are opened to provide access. Non-record materials such as souvenir pins or badges, pressed flowers, and product samples can chemically interact with paper to cause degradation.

Delta On to preservation measures

Oregon Secretary of State • 136 State Capitol • Salem, OR 97310-0722

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