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January 20, 2014

Oops I goofed! A Correction re Preserving Paper Treasures

Oops I goofed! A Correction re Preserving Paper Treasures
Last December I wrote a series of blog posts about how and where to preserve your treasured documents from the past. In the blog post Preserving Paper Treaures: Step 3 Ready To Create & Store I advised readers to choose a lovely wooden box that would be less likely to be tossed out or the contents removed so the box could be used for another purpose.

Thanks to an Archivist friend, I have learned that I gave bad advice! According to Laura Cosgrove Lorenza who very kindly and gently wrote to me about my error:

"...wood boxes should not be used to store paper, especially contemporary paper (anything much after 1920) or newsprint. The reason is two-fold: the wood is usually preserved with lacquers and oils which are injurious to paper because they off-gas, but more importantly the rag content in contemporary paper is significantly less and therefore the acid in the wood and the higher acid level in the paper fight one another to speed the deterioration process."

Laura further suggests that the Northeast Document Conservation Center's preservation leaflet on the storage of maps, which addresses the dangers of storing paper materials in wood. (4.9 Storage Solutions for Oversized Paper Artifacts) is very helpful for alternate suggestions on storing documents.

Oops I goofed! Correction re Preserving Paper Treasures
Since I do want to continue using my antique wooden lap desk to store my ancestors' paper documents I will have to follow the steps suggested by the Northeast Document Conservation Center before using it for long-term storage. 

A huge thank you to Laura for taking the time to write to me so I could correct my error.
Laura has worked in a variety of Archives for the past 8 years and is currently working in a corporate Archives. She's also a Genealogist, Lecturer and Writer with more than 18 years experience. You can find Laura on LinkedIn or posting on her blog The Last Leaf on This Branch 

Credits: "Oops And Right Icon" by digitalart on


Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana said...

I'm just glad you were so gracious in accepting my suggestion that wood isn't always our friend. I love your lap desk and I'm glad you now know how to take care of it so your family papers are safe and secure! And thanks so much for sharing what you know through your blog. :-)

Jana Iverson Last said...


I want you to know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!