Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Sadly, no food posts this week. I spent the past two weeks traveling, eating, visiting with family, working and trying to get over a rather nasty head cold. But I am about ready to put my order in for the archival supplies that I'll need to preserve Ida Mae's Cookbook so I thought I'd share the process with ya'll.

The first question I asked myself was, How are these recipes going to be used? Am I going to be referring to the originals and need them in a binder so that I can flip through them? Or instead will these be more of an archive that can be accessed when needed? I am thinking that it will be more of the second since I have plans to make typed copies of the recipes for my own use and to send to all the family. Since that is the case, I'm going to go with a nice archival box, with folders to separate the various types of recipes from one another (since they aren't in any sort of order currently) and then put the individual pages into plastic sleeves.

I went through the stack of recipes and took note of what size paper the recipes were written on. The sheets varied by size, but the majority of them were 8x10 or smaller. There is a wide variety of plastic sleeves available on the market and it can get rather confusing. "How different can one plastic be from another?" you might ask, and that's an excellent question.

All plastic is formed of similar materials, but the process in which they are put together and manufactured determine the quality of plastic that is produced. When looking for plastic to use for archival purposes, look for ones without fillers, plasticizers, chlorine, or sulfur. PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PVDC (polyvinylidene), PVA (polyvinyl acetate), acidic polyesters, polyurethane foams, chloroprene (such as Neoprene®), urea formaldehyde panels (such as GatorFoam®) are NOT suitable for use in archival projects because they can emit gas that can damage the materials that are contained within them. Polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene, acrylic, and inert polyester films and sheeting are better materials to use for archival projects because they are chemically stable and thus inert. We like inert :)

There are a lot of plastic sleeves that are available at the big box office supply stores that claim to be "acid free" or "archival quality" or even "PVC free" but if you can't verify what they are made of, I wouldn't use them. Avery make several various sheets that -are- made from Polypropylene (PP), which are alright to use, but if you're looking for top-quality, I would go for a Polyethylene (PE) product since PE is chemically superior to PP.

It's also important to consider the weight of the plastic sleeves. Most archival quality sleeves begin at 2mil and go up from there. Old style sleeves were made by using some sort of adhesive to bind together the edges. These... aren't really the best for long term storage because over time the paper/photo will slide down into the adhesive. What you want are sleeves with edges that have been sealed using heat. There are two varieties, edge sealed and intermittent sealed. Either should be fine for a home-archival project.

There is a lot of other considerations to make, like where these will be stored, what the relative humidity will be, how often will they be handled, what the temperature will be, what range of temperatures and humidities will the documents be exposed to? The answer to most of these questions for this project is "I don't know". I can't account for how these documents will be handled in the next 5-10 years, especially if they are not in my possession, so I have to just plan for the worst and hope for the best!

So, supply-wise, I think I will need...

1 half size Document box
10-15 Folders
100 Plastic Sleeves-- 8x10, PE if they aren't too much expensive
pencil for labeling folders and pages

Since I don't need 100+ folders, I'm going to go with a family archival kit from Gaylord. This will give me all the basics, and I'll just have to add on my plastic sleeves. If you have a need for more folders though or a larger box, it might be more cost effective to put together your own selection of box and folders.

Hopefully I'll get the supplies in soon so I can get to work! I also hope to have a new recipe up this week, we will have to see how fast I can get rid of this cold!