Melissa Barker shares her tips on preserving a collecting of drivers’ log books with more than one preservation problem!
Frank in California asks: “Recently, I came across a series of ‘Driver Log Books’ from a relative that I wish to preserve. They are all stained with the smearing of carbon paper and they have heavy duty size staples in them. Should I remove the staples and how do I preserve these books, I have over 40 of them.”
Frank has a great collection of books from his relative. These are driver log books that used carbon paper to copy what was being written on the page so that the person could keep a copy. Carbon paper is almost unheard of these days, but was used almost everywhere for decades. We run into carbon paper in the archives all the time and in all cases, we try to get rid of it as fast as we can because it is not archival and can actually damage documents. Most of the time carbon paper can be easily removed from most books. Either the carbon paper is tucked into the book without it being attached to anything or it is attached with perforation that can easily be torn out.
It is important to remember that the carbon paper can still leave color on the documents and to prevent this, place a piece of regular copy paper between the page and the carbon paper while trying to remove it. This will keep from any smudges or smears on the documents that you are trying to preserve.
Once the carbon paper is removed, we need to deal with the heavy duty staples in these books. As anyone who has been reading my column for very long knows, I always recommend removing metal staples from documents. They are absolutely horrible and can cause great damage to our documents by rusting and then that rust eating away at the paper.
In Frank’s case, he was concerned about removing the staples and then the pages being loose and then getting lost or misfiled, etc. I completely understand this concern, especially since he says he has over 40 of these log books. In this instance, I would be okay with Frank not removing the staples as long as the log books are stored in a humidity controlled place. If any humidity or moisture gets to the staples, they are going to rust and then damage the documents they are attached to. While I would feel much better if the staples were removed, I completely understand Frank’s concern.
The last step in preserving these log books is to wrap each one in buffered archival tissue paper and then place them in an archival box. Frank wondered if he should put the tissue paper between each page. I advised him that would not be necessary. Wrapping each log book with buffered archival tissue paper would be sufficient to protect the books. Then he can place all of the books in one archival box or he can put each book in a separate box like this one:
Frank has a treasure trove of log books from his relative and I am so glad to see that he is taking steps necessary to preserve them for future generations. These are just the items that many genealogists wish they had in their family papers.
Online Archival Material Websites
Here is a listing of online archival materials stores. Archival sleeves for letters can be purchased at any of the following online archival stores. They all have online catalogs and paper catalogs that can be sent to your home. Also, be sure to sign up for email notifications because they periodically have sales and will send out email notifications.
- Gaylord Archival
- Hollinger Metal Edge
- University Products
- Light Impressions
- Archival Methods
- Print File Archival Storage
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Melissa Barker lives in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee. She is the Houston County (TN) Archivist and a Professional Genealogist. She writes the blog, A Genealogist in the Archives, and has been researching her own family for over 26 years. She lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation.
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