Question about keeping old newspaper clippings #records

Debbie Terman

Hello all,
I've been looking through some newspaper clippings that my father saved about 50 years ago. I've scanned and saved them digitally, and I'm wondering whether I need to keep the originals (which are quite yellow and crumbling at the edges). These are random local news stories (local civic association meeting, my parents had a party in their new house, etc.) -- not obits or anything related to vital records. Thoughts?
Debbie Terman
Newton MA USA

Kenneth Ryesky



In preparation for our Aliyah 5 years ago, I spent much time scanning various documents.  Before then, following my Dad's passing (and my Mom's contemporaneous admission to a nursing home), I had the local Staples store deliver a scanner/copier to my Mom's house near Philadelphia, so that I, as Executor of Dad's Estate, could go down there from Long Island and attend to Estate matters and Mom's issues; I spent more than a week there prepping the house for sale and many hours each day scanning documents.


It all got tedious at times, but I do not regret it.  The process simplifies accessing documents on flash drives and hard drives instead of going through filing cabinets, and it downsizes physical space (which was absolutely necessary in connection with our relocation to Israel).


There are, of course, certain documents of which you will need/desire to retain the originals (Mom's Will, my autographs from personalities such as Menachem Begin, Ed Koch, and Isaac Asimov, etc.).  Newspaper clippings almost always can be safely disposed of if they have been accurately scanned (with text recognition).


Besides, if you have more than one child/grandchild/niece/nephew to whom you wish to give the news clipping collection, you need only make copies of the files and give everyone a complete set ; there is no need to divide the collection or decide who does or does not get this or that item within the collection.  I have seen some very contentious arguments in my law practice among heirs to estates over those kinds of things, and inheritance cases I have not handled have been known to be litigated in high profile court cases.  [].


So yes, do preserve the information in the records, with all due respect to the medium in which the record was created.


-- Ken Ryesky

Petach Tikva, ISRAEL



Ken Ryesky,  Petach Tikva, Israel     kenneth.ryesky@...


If  you choose to save the original clippings, I suggest putting them in acid-free sleeves in an acid-free box.  This will slow down further deterioration.  But I applaud you for scanning everything, though I think you will want at least two digital copies, just in case one deteriorates.
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

Walter Silver

Hi All,


If the paper originals don’t take up an unmanageable amount of space there are credible arguments for keeping the originals. Once stored properly (in archival containers), old paper is likely to continue to exist for generations. While digital files are great & useful for many many reasons ensuring their long-term preservation is more complicated. They may not survive as intact and accessible unless they and their storage media are monitored and preserved through an ongoing process.


Files can become unreadable, storage media can physically deteriorate, formats & software becomes unsupported, owners of cloud servers can go out of business.


For example, a file stored on a cd even just a few years ago, may no longer be readable: either the physical cd deteriorated, or some ‘bit” within the file spontaneously changed; and finding a disk reader to work with your current or future system may become impossible.


Best practices for preservation of digital files is to make more than one copy, store those copies on different kinds of media, check them once a year to make sure they’re still readable, and be prepared to copy them to newer technologies as older ones near obsolescence.


(I come to this with a background in commercial and museum photography)


Best regards,


Walter Silver

Cambridge, MA


Most newsprint is "cheap" and not at all archival quality paper. It will degrade due to its acidic nature and will yellow and crumble in time. Google to find how you can treat it to neutralize the acid content.

James Castellan
Rose Valley, PA

rv Kaplan

Or scan the cutting and print out on quality paper if you feel the need for a hard copy back up.   Bound to be cheaper and easier than treating newsprint in some way.

Harvey Kaplan
Glasgow, Scotland

On Sat, 12 Sep 2020 at 22:53, James <james.castellan@...> wrote:
Most newsprint is "cheap" and not at all archival quality paper. It will degrade due to its acidic nature and will yellow and crumble in time. Google to find how you can treat it to neutralize the acid content.

James Castellan
Rose Valley, PA

Erika Gottfried

I agree with Harvey, but I'd make it stronger:  If you value these clippings you definitely ought to print out the scans in addition to keeping the digital copies.  Preserving these items with through digital files alone requires relying on a technology that is, as of now, still fickle and fragile.  Print copies are another backup.

Print out the clippings on acid and lignin-free paper.  If you use good-quality toner and keep the printouts in acid and lignin -free folders in acid free boxes, and away from light they can last for up to 100 years. If you can afford pigment-based ink or toner (depending on whether you have a laser or ink jet printer) the printouts will be more stable and last even longer.  None of this is cheap, of course, but it's not impossibly expensive, either.  But if you want to be certain to preserve these items, I counsel this belt and suspenders approach.  Also extremely important is that you make certain either that the newspaper title and date and page number of the story are visible in each of the scans (it's not good enough to include this information in the file name -- it needs to be actually visible as part of the scan itself), or if you didn't do that at the time of scanning, if you have this information write that it on the back of each printout of a clipping -- in pencil, not pen (unless the ink in the pen is acid-free).   If I seem a little fanatical about this, I am, based on more than 25 years as a visual materials archivist.   

If you follow the protocols above you can discard the original crumbling clippings in good conscience, although you might want to retain a few of them to have a sample of the flavor of the original object (in which case, store them in clear polyester or polyproplylene sleeves -- these are acid-free and since they are transparent you can see the items immediately).

Good for you for taking the trouble and time to scan these clippings, and for asking how to take care of them properly.

Erika Gottfried
Teaneck, New Jersey