Anders Family
David Asbel Anders with
Jim and Tina Smith Anders
Family

US GenWeb Project

Rufus and Florence Hall Owen Family in 1947
Rufus and Florence Hall Owen and children

US GenWeb Archives Project

 

Transylvania County, NC 

GenWeb Project

NC GenWeb

 

Strawberry Preserves, Frozen Soup, and Historic Documents

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It just makes sense. From Grandma’s canning jars to the latest zipper style freezer bags, food is usually best preserved in a sealed container so that air can never escape or enter. Granny’s garden has been kept edible for years in her bank house this way. Bags of frozen goodness are quickly defrosted for a hearty healthy meal. And so it is natural that when a cherished family Bible, or old photographs, or a brittle letter from over a century ago comes into the possession of a preservation-minded family member, the immediate instinct is to seal it up air tight to protect and preserve the document.  

Unfortunately, sealing a document is about the worst thing you can do for it. When preserving food, the contents are usually boiled first – removing any harmful bacteria. You can’t boil a bible. And the problem isn’t necessarily bacteria – it’s the chemical content of the document that can contain acid or lignin. Trapped, these and other gasses and chemicals will destroy the document over time. In addition, gasses from plastic containers themselves can cause damage. With proper airflow, these gasses will dissipate as harmless bits of atmosphere.  

When permanently storing a document, skip the sealed plastic containers. An acid free/lignin free paper box and tissue paper stored at moderate temperature and humidity in a dark area is your best bet. These are available at Ancestry.com and other sources. Even better, consider keeping a copy for home use and donating original historic documents and photographs to a professionally managed archive to best ensure access for future researchers.  

So save all those freezer containers for the good stuff like blueberries or corn on the cob or ‘mater soup…….

 - Linda Hoxit Raxter, 26 JAN 2003

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