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Rescuing Storm Damaged Family Collections

Salvaging Family Papers : The Basics

    Paper items
  • If paper or books are damp then air drying is best.
  • Use cool low humidity area to spread out documents to aid drying.  Sunny days will help air these also.
  • Use paper towels as blotters to put between items.
  • Get air flowing around the items as much as possible.
  • Rinse mud away if necessary,  In example of books hold the book closed  do not scrub the items but gently agitate in rinsing.
  • Partially damp books can stand on the top edge fanned open to air dry
  • Very wet books can be interleaved with paper towels about 20% of the books to draw out water.
  • Books and paper can be frozen by wrapping in wax paper and calling conservators later.  This will reduce mold development until items can be dried carefully.
  • Dry warped books or wrinkled paper can be pressed flat at a later time.
  • Photographs can also be air dried emulsion side up, but must be separated.
  • Remove from plastic or paper enclosures.
  • Carefully rinse away mud or debris away with clean water if necessary.
  • DO NOT blot photo surface emulsion.
  • Use wax paper to separate photos.
  • Can be frozen if necessary for a conservator to complete salvage.


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