How to Preserve Old Books and Delicate Historic Materials
It is important to recognize just how fragile these types of paper-based records really are. Many books and historical documents that were created after the 1830’s and before the 1980’s were created on paper made from wood pulp and alum-rosin sizing. This combination resulted in acidic conditions that accelerated the deterioration of paper. Paper made earlier than the 1830’s was made from rags, which has a better survival rate than the acidic wood pulp mixture used for the 150 years when many important documents were created.
Other materials used before the 1830’s include Papyrus and Parchment. Parchment, being made from treated animal skins was by far the most durable and the most expensive. Today, there are parchment documents that have survived from the 13th century. Papyrus was much cheaper, but wore out more quickly and, since it is destroyed by moisture, few papyrus documents survive to the present day.