In spite of the popularity of electronic records, paper is the best
medium for storing permanent records. Even if you have traced your petroglyphs
on toilet paper, as more than one anthropologist has done, it is relatively
simple to xerox that drawing onto permanent paper and not lose information.
Appropriate supplies are not expensive, and except for space, there
are no further maintenance costs involved.
CoPAR Bulletin 11
Council for the Preservation of Anthropological Records
Dedicated to helping anthropologists,
information specialists and others preserve and provide access to the
records of human diversity and the history of the discipline.
Locating Archival Quality Materials
Photographic storage supplies are similar to those for paper, but because of chemicals
used in creating and processing them, some thought needs to be given to the quality of the
original purchase and to the shop processing the film. Ektachrome slides, for example,
will fade in less than ten years; the current recommendation is for Fujichrome. It may be
cheap to get your film developed at the local fifty minute shop, but chances are that they
have never heard of a methylene blue test and that their processing may not wash out all
destructive chemicals. Spend a little more time to make sure you get good quality.
Digital and magnetic media should last ten to thirty years, but there
are precautions to be taken. Choose PET ( Polyethylene terepthalate)
or Mylar brand tapes with iron oxide pigments, not metal or chromium
particulates. Use "write-once" CD-ROMs, not rewritable ones.
Always make duplicate copies and recopy everything at least every
Think about the supplies that surround you in your office or laboratory environment as
well. If you have site plans that are laying on a table for a long time, make sure you
have UV filters on your lights to prevent fading. Use map cases or oversized shelves for
oversized materials so that students or volunteers can easily put them away without being
tempted to fold them.
For general information about archives and products for appropriate long term storage,
please refer to the literature of the Society of American Archivists, 527 S. Wells Street,
Chicago, IL 60607 (Telephone: 312-922-0140). For questions about quality and use of
supplies, contact the Northeast Document Conservation
Center (Telephone 978-470-1010). Also see other CoPAR bulletins.
The following is an annotated and very selective list of suppliers. It is limited to
some of the larger firms that distribute catalogs and give a broad variety of products.
Conservation Resources International
800-H Forbes Place
Springfield, VA 22151
In addition to its excellent acid-free paper and cardboard products, this company has
filter tubes and monitors.
PO Box 4901
Syracuse, NY 13221-4901
1-800-448-6160 (Canada: 1-800-841-5854)
This large library supplier developed an archival program and has produced preservation
pamphlets on paper, photographs, and textiles that are free upon request.
PO Box 8360
Fredericksburg, VA 22404
Hollinger is the oldest of the archival suppliers, having recently celebrated its 50th
anniversary. It also has a shipping point in Sparks, Nevada which reduces freight charges
considerably for western states and western Canada.
Light Impressions Corporation
439 Monroe Avenue
PO Box 940
Rochester, NY 14603-0940
Light Impressions has the largest choice of photographic materials and includes UV
filters, light tables, and map cases. It also stocks the classic books for photograph
Edge West, Inc.
6340 Bandini Blvd
Commerce, CA 90040
Metal Edge West is company with competitive prices but without conservation
University Products, Inc.
PO Box 101
517 South Main Street
Holyoke, MA 01041-0101
University Products has display items, cabinets, and insect traps as well as paper,
film, and CD equipment. They have recently expanded to include natural history products
and distributes about a dozen preservation pamphlets free of charge.
Mary Elizabeth Ruwell
Return to Guide
to Preserving Anthropological Records
for the Preservation of Anthropological Records