Historic Documents and Books

This is the page where you can find introductory information about how to care for the historic documents and books in your museum collection.


Best Practices

The Maine Memory Network produced this guide to handling historical documents safely. It is directed to students, but it’s guidelines can be used to train volunteers or as a handout for local history researchers.

The Northeast Document Conservation Center will walk you through the cleaning process for books and shelves as well as basic guidelines for the storage of books, unbound paper, oversized materials, newsprint, pamphlets, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Learn how to create a custom storage box for books, by the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

The Henry Ford’s fact sheet “The Care and Preservation of Documents and Works of Art on Paper” details how to limit damage to paper collections and the guidelines for proper care, handling, and storage.

Wondering how to properly label and mark paper objects? Here’s a quick tutorial.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has this resource page for small archives, offering information on preservation, as well as archival basics and cataloging.

University of Delaware History and Museum Studies graduate student Alexander Ames wrote this helpful guide to the proper care, storage, and exhibition of books and works on paper.

Fei Wen Tsai and Dianne van der Reyden for the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education compiled this guide to Chinese Wood Block Print.

Dianne van der Reyden and Don Williams for the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education compiled this guide on a Victorian “Japan Ware” Chair.

Dianne van der Reyden for the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education compiled guides on: Western and Oriental Screens, 19th Century Globes, Developing Solutions for Paper Artifacts, and Specialty Papers.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne offers a Preservation Self-Assessment Program that assists with identifying different types of office printing and reprographic processes.  Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute outlined sources of Deterioration and Damage to Paper Materials, offers handouts on Paper Artifacts Preservation Do’s and Don’ts, Housing & Environment Options for Display of Documents, Housing & Environment Options for Storage of Documents, Framing & Unframing works on paper.