When you take the time to save interesting or historically relevant newspapers and magazines, you never want to risk damaging or losing them. Leaving these items lying in drawers or cabinets will undoubtedly cause them to get manhandled, torn, or lost.
Newsprint, according to the New York Times, deteriorates in approximately 50 years — meaning several thousand people who improperly saved their daily newspapers from, say, John F. Kennedy’s assassination or the first moon landing are finding that their historical documents are now being lost to the ages.
There’s also the problem, of course, of clutter. Save too many historic newspapers or memorable magazines and you have an increasingly unfeasible situation on your hands: lots of papers, no place to store them, and the effects of wear, tear, and time slowly turning them to pulp.
An option like self storage, where you know the documents will be safe from curious hands or household catastrophes, is quite attractive.
There are ways to keep your collectibles safe and your home uncluttered. Here are a few tips for storing, displaying, and preserving history.
Five ways to save and store historical newspapers and magazines
1.) Create a sorting system. The obvious way to sort your newspapers or magazines is by year, but if you have specific interests (elections, disasters, cultural events), these categories will certainly work as a system, as well.
The sorting system will allow you to easily access specific documents when you want to remember a big day or share the past with friends and family — and you won’t have to scatter 30 other papers across the floor in order to find the one you want.
2.) Don’t display the original. Sunlight, air, water, the acid on your hands — all of these things are terrible for documents. If you have great newspapers that you want to display in your home (classy move, by the way), make a photocopy. That faux DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN front page will still look good in a nice frame.
3.) Storage is crucial. You can have an expert de-acidify your newspapers, but that is prohibitively expensive — as much as $50 per page. The more economical bet is purchasing acid-free boxes and wrapping the newspapers or magazines themselves in acid-free tissue. Leave a little room in the box for air circulation.
If you really want to get elaborate, some suggest using the boxes in which commercial printers store metal plates. Tracking these down may be difficult, but they are made specifically to keep out air and elements — in other words, ideal storage for your documents.
4.) Control your climate. Keeping your box of historical newspapers in the garage, attic, basement, etc., is a terrible idea. Newspapers need to be saved somewhere dry and warm. Consider climate controlled self storage, where you can ensure the environment will be appropriate for your prized possessions.
5.) Keep exposure to a minimum. Over time, it will be tempting to fish out those newspapers and magazines from 20, 30, 40 years past and revel in days gone by. It’s only natural to want to reflect.
Try to keep these trips down Memory Lane to a minimum. Handling and exposure only help to ruin those documents. It’s a bit of a sad paradox — by preserving history, you also remove your own ability to enjoy it, to a certain extent.
Take solace — and pride — in the knowledge that you are saving a piece of the past for the future.