Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Question of Storage

I have been reading the Olive Tree Genealogy blog regarding the storage (and sorting) of original documents that are important to keep for further generations. Sadly, not many of the old documents come in a standard size like today. The pages were foolscap size, certificates almost square, writing paper came in all shapes and sizes and not a lot of my precious documents fit neatly into the archival sleeves, binders or boxes that I have purchased.

I have an insurance policy bought for my Grandmother, by her mother, when she was one year old in 1903 and is way bigger than A3 size, and I hate having it folded. I also have a wedding invitation that is about two inches high, and about 8 inches wide; it is meant to fold over on two sides with the invitation in the covered middle space, but again, I'd rather have it unfolded. Neither of these items, nor a myriad of other documents, such as the blueprint for my grandfather’s house will fit into the average archival box or sleeve without retaining the damaging folds. My ultimate aim is to keep these documents in as good a condition as possible for many, many years to come. Many of them have not been treated kindly in the past and it is now time for some TLC.

When reading about the conservation of paper materials, it is always made clear that items should not be folded, staples and paper clips should be removed, and any even minor folds of the corner of documents should be straightened out. This is the absolute basic rule; before they even start to discuss the types of archival sleeve and container, where best to store fragile papers to protect them from heat and humidity... it is quite a complex topic, and let's face it, our private collections are valuable assets and should be treated with as much respect as any national depository treats their collections.  

Many of these documents such as the blueprints have not been scanned, I will have to find a place that has a scanner big enough to accommodate such oversized pages, and probably have to pay a premium to have it done – the blueprint is massive – almost the size of a single bed!

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to store really oversized documents and odd shaped ones?

Any and all ideas welcome, and many thanks to Lorine for her blog and interesting thoughts on this overwhelming subject.

For information about best practice in dealing with paper the following two sites are most informative

·         National Archives of Australia

·         Library of Congress


  1. Can't help with storage advice.
    You might consider using a Flip-Pal mobile scanner for scanning those odd shaped and large items (doing multiple overlapping scans). The stitching software that comes with it gives excellent results.

    1. Thanks Jill,

      I do own a flip-pal scanner, but have never used the sticking software - I guess it's time I took the plunge and saved myself some money - good thinking 99!

      As for storage, ultimately with the money and space I'd buy some map drawers as used in major libraries, but Pauleen's suggestion of a postage tube is a good one, if I line the tube, or roll the item in archival paper.

      Cheers from Linda

  2. As a suggestion why not see if this article helps

    1. Thanks Hilary

      That is exactly the information I was looking for!