Friday, 9 November 2007


Almost all families have a newspaper clipping they want to preserve. Sometimes it is an obituary. Alternatively, it might be an article about a Golden Wedding Anniversary or about a sports activity. Regardless of what the article is about, here are some thoughts on how to preserve a clipping.

If the clipping has not turned yellow, the best step is to take it to a photocopier. The copy made on a regular sheet of paper will last longer than the newsprint on which the article was first printed. Be sure to record on the copy the name of the newspaper, the date and the page if these are known.

Be sure to photocopy both sides when you are duplicating the article. This is especially important if the date and source of the original article is not recorded on the original article. Sometimes the details on the backside of a clipping help in identifying when and where the article was first published.

By photocopying the newsprint, one transfers the message to a paper lower in acid. The acid in the paper usually determines how long the clipping will last. Less acid in the paper means the document will last longer.
  • Newsprint is a very inexpensive form of paper. Because of its manufacturing process, it has more acid in the paper than regular paper. The acid will slowly turn the clipping a light yellowish brown. Later the paper will turn to a darker brown before it starts to crumble.
There is one disadvantage to photocopying a newspaper article. Sometimes it is not possible to reproduce a newspaper photograph in the copying process. In cases like this, the option is to reduce the level of acid in the clipping.

Deadicification is what the process is called. There are sprays and solutions for this process. It is possible for a person with little training to use these. However, they really work best in a lab under expert supervision. This is because there has been a change in the composition of ink. Experts know how to test the clipping to learn which deacidifers will work and which will ruin the clipping.

Any deacidification effort is non-reversible. Once a change is made, it will not be possible to return to the original condition of the newspaper clipping.

If you are determined to keep the original clipping, isolation is the next best step. This keeps a clipping from touching other records, documents, photographs, etc.

For example, a common place to store an obituary is in a Bible. Over the years, the acid in the newsprint will migrate to the adjacent pages in the Bible. Soon a yellow spot will appear on the Bible pages on either side of the clipping. The yellow spots occur because the acid in the clipping migrated to the adjacent pages. The fibers in the Bible pages are now weakened. The same migration of acid will occur in a bank lock box, in a vertical file or in an envelope.

To isolate a clipping, place it in a folded sheet of paper. If you can, use acid-free paper. However, any paper that is lower in acid content will be better than doing nothing. Cut the paper to fit inside if you want to keep the clipping in a book. After it begins to age, the folded isolation sheet may be replaced.

Mementoes remind us of a former place and time. Dear family and friends leap to mind when we glance at a newspaper clipping.

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