Newspaper articles are a fun keepsake and time capsule. But there’s a huge problem with newspapers, which are inherently a disposable medium. Your desire to preserve them as keepsakes is contrary to their physical properties. They yellow, curl, crumble and fade if you don’t take steps to preserve them.
As a professional photo organizer, I probably see more than my share of old newspaper clippings. But here’s the thing…I don’t recommend keeping the original front pages of momentous occasions that you didn’t headline in. So don’t keep the front page of 9/11/2001 or of the Eagle’s SuperBowl win. What should you do instead? You have some great options.
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Option 1 to Preserve Newspapers:
Instead of buying the over-sized original paper for a couple of bucks and then letting it yellow and rot in your paper piles, contact the newspaper and purchase a great quality front page photographic reprint. It’s a great way to support your newspaper of choice, and the print you get will be a high-quality print, like those you see here, which we framed and displayed. You can even purchase the print reframed to make your life even easier! Just go to your newspaper’s website and look for “reprints.” Here’s the Reprint store link for the Philadelphia Inquirer. In the photo below, we purchases prints and then had them custom framed to match the decor and each other, and we even custom-framed a ticket to the historic game in the bottom print.
I know this shot is out of focus. Will update when time allows.
Option 2 to Preserve Newspapers:
Find your newspaper through Newspapers.com. This online service from Ancestry.com offers a 30-day free trial and then a reasonable annual subscription. They have a mind-boggling collection of newspapers archived back through the 1700’s available as digital downloads. They include both front pages and interior pages. If you download copies, just be mindful of the size of the digital file, as some files will not be large enough for quality reprinting in larger sizes. And, of course, please respect copyright laws. This is a particularly great resource to obtain non-yellowed and undamaged copies of papers that you already own.
Below is 100 years of company ads for a family business, preserved and displayed. Some of the ads are quite funny, and some of the newspaper pages have interesting historical articles alongside the ads. I used 20×28 frames similar to this for this gallery, although I HIGHLY recommend sourcing your frames locally and insisting on glass fronts instead of Plexiglas.
Option 3 to Preserve Newspapers:
If your newspaper article is small, you can get reasonably good results by scanning at home. I wouldn’t recommend trying to scan an entire page, as the size alone and the relatively poor original quality of newsprint will produce a poor quality scan. But to save an article where you were mentioned, you can often scan just the article on a home office scanner, or even with your phone, to get a decent scan. Just remember to focus your camera lens before clicking, like I showed you with my “3 Tips – 1 Tap” video.
DIY Newspaper Preservation:
Take care with special, brittle newspaper clippings that you already have in your collection. I personally have never tried to stabilize old clippings myself, as the options above are much easier and more reliable methods. But if you want to try this DIY method for preserving and handling newspapers, I would recommend that you try it on a small article that isn’t your most important nor your oldest. And before you attempt this, definitely get a good scan. Blogger James Holloway recommends this:
The Scrapbook Preservation Society recommends letting the clipping soak in a small dish of distilled water for around 20 minutes, then allowing it to dry on a clean, flat surface. Excess heat can cause the clipping to curl; the ideal temperature is around 70 degrees. Once the clipping is dry, spray it with a light coat of de-acidification spray.
Laminating Newspapers and Magazine Articles
I’ve also had good results by laminating an article. If you laminate a fresh newspaper article, you limit the air and moisture that it absorbs before it gets preserved inside the airless laminate pocket. When I’ve done this, the articles look great for years. Because you laminate full pages of 8.5’x11″, you’ll want to trim an article carefully, removing ads and other non-essential information, to fit exactly within the envelope before sending it through a laminating machine. I have used my laminator for all sorts of projects, including creating a useful Child ID for when we travel. You can find a lamination machine on Amazon for about $25. It’s also fun to give friends a laminated article when they show up in the local newspaper. You can never share enough good news, right? I was in a national magazine earlier this year, and even that needs to be laminated to prevent further damage.
If you do have a large set of newspapers that you want to preserve in their original form, you can purchase newspaper archival kits that will allow you to neatly store them in exactly the right-sized box. These kits are acid-free and include plastic sleeves for the newspapers, so you can handle them without soiling them, and they look much nicer shelved inside your home’s living space than plastic boxes. (You know how I feel about plastic bins!) More importantly, because newspapers are acidic, they should NOT be stored in the same containers as your photos, which hate acid.
There you go. Probably more than you ever wanted to know about saving newspaper articles. Each option has pros and cons, but one thing is for sure. It’s probably not worth saving if you don’t know where it is, or if you never enjoy looking at it.
Do you have old newspaper clippings or entire newspapers saved in your photo collection?