Care and Handling of Historic Materials

Tips for Handling Original Documents Safely

Wash your hands before handling records as hand oils can leave permanent marks on the bindings and pages. Sometimes an archive may ask you to wear gloves.

Do not have food or drink anywhere near documents. Spilled drinks will permanently damage the records causing tidelines in the paper and possible running of inks.

Use pencils. Do not use ink pens or markers as these materials leave marks that create permanent damage to the records.

When writing down information, do not write on top of the records as the pressure from the act of writing may emboss the paper below causing irreparable damage to the records.

When taking books from the shelves push the book on either side of the desired book in slightly. This will allow you to grasp the book you want in the middle.

Do not pull the books out by the headbands as over time they will tear.

If a book’s binding is frail, support the book as you open it.

Never place anything on top of a photograph.

Handle photographs by their edges. Don’t touch the image.

Always ask permission before photocopying. Do not press the lid of the photocopier down onto a book binding.


student washing hands student writing with pencil student holding photo by edges