Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Mailbag: Role of Gloves in Preservation

NARA volunteers prepare Civil War case files for digitization. Photo courtesy of Earl McDonald, National Archives. Dear Insider,

Oh, AI, there are indeed gems in the files. There are beautiful frakturs, my distant cousin's prosaic printed family record, an astonishing list of people who took the Oath of Allegiance in PA in 1777, and ~not least~ one of the few surviving pages of records of a Mohawk Valley, NY church.

I note in one photo at your link, with some dismay, that the volunteers sorting through the original files are not wearing gloves.

Geolover *


Dear Insider,

I would like to comment that the volunteers are not instructed to wear gloves when handling paper as it is not safe to lose the tactile feeling that bare hands provide. More harm than good can come to paper from gloves. They are instructed to always wash their hands before working with original documents. These procedures are established by NARA's preservation department, and the same rules apply to NARA's digitization and microfilm staff as well as to the public in the research room. Please note that gloves are required when handling any type of photograph.

Anonymous *


Dear Readers,

To learn best practices for preserving your own valuable artifacts, visit “Caring for Your Family Archives” on the National Archives website.

Read policies for organizations like and FamilySearch, at “National Archives Preservation Guidelines for Vendors Handling Records and Historical Materials.”

Still want more? See “Holdings Maintenance” for preservation professionals.

Thank you both. I learn a lot from all of you.

-- The Insider

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