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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
Beth's Weekly Moultrie Observer Column - Week 79
(This appears here courtesy of The Moultrie Observer)

   Several of you have come by my office at the library with questions about genealogy and about some of the related fields.  I'll do my best, over the next weeks to answer a few of the questions you have asked.
   One of the most frequently asked queries is about storing things that are genealogically and historically valuable. 
   What kinds of things might you collect if you are a family historian? You might be surprised at what a long list there is of items that are important.
   Everyone collects paper things.  Paper copies of email, computer printouts of valuable information, family letters, newspaper clippings, legal documents, photocopies.  The list grows all the time with new technology.
   Most everyone interested in genealogy and family history collects both printed books and books in manuscript form.
   Most everyone has a box - or boxes - and albums of photographs.  That means we must deal with color pictures, black and white pictures, negatives.and maybe even slides and Polaroid pictures.  Today, we have photographs from digital cameras as well.
   Most of us have films like the old Super 8 or 16 mm.  Nowadays, most everyone has videotapes that have been done by family members or even professionals.
   Have you thought about how phonograph records and audiocassettes are valuable historical and genealogical items?
   Even textiles are important to family history.  Do you have a quilt that grandmother made?  Do you have your great grandmothers wedding dress? 
   In my own kitchen, hanging on a little hook is my beloved grandmother's apron.worn and showing that it was used most every day.but precious to me. 
   All of these things will deteriorate over time.  Things age through chemical changes or through physical happenings.
   You need to know just a little bit about paper.
   Paper becomes brittle because there is a chemical reaction in the paper that was made using what the scientist's call the sulfite pulping process.
   Until just a little bit ago, most of the paper that was made after 1860 was made with that sulfite pulping process.  This means that chemicals alum and rosin added to the paper will form sulfuric acid when the resulting paper is exposed to air and high temperatures.  Chemically, this alters the molecular structure of the paper and it becomes "embrittled."  Paper thus affected is weakened and easily damaged. 
   Most of us have had the sad experience of having old paper just crumble away in your hand.and now you know why.
   When paper is chemically deteriorated, it does often lead to physical deterioration (see crumble away above).  However, all physical deterioration is not dependent upon the chemical process.
   When you handle books and papers carelessly, they can be damaged.  When you store books and papers in high temperatures or damp places.or in direct sunlight.damage can occur.
   Poor storage can result in your precious items being exposed to insects and vermin that love to eat and nest in paper.  Look out for silverfish, cockroaches and even beetles.  Mice, rats and squirrels will eat or chew on paper and will - yuk - leave droppings on materials.
   If you will think just a little bit about the storage of your genealogical and historical materials, you can greatly extend their time of usefulness.
   We'll talk a little more about this next time.

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