Document preservation is serious business whether it be your own personal records or our National Archives. You might know, in comparison  to most of our efforts, the national archives wins hands-down.

The following press release from the National Archives takes viewers inside their state-of-the-art preservation lab where you’ll see a series of videos which demonstrates how archival treasures are carefully housed in custom made boxes:

Washington, DC…The National Archives today is releasing its latest Inside the Vaults video short,Boxing our Treasures, which takes viewers inside the National Archives preservation lab to see how archival treasures are lovingly and carefully housed in custom-made encasements. To view the video 

The three-minute video is part of the ongoing “Inside the Vaults” series and can be viewed on the National Archives YouTube channel.

The film series is free to view and distribute on our YouTube channel at http://tiny.cc/Vaults. These videos are in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages the free distribution of them.

National Archives senior conservator Gail Harriman explains the importance of such custom-made boxing: “About 60% of the holdings require some level of preservation. A great deal of that can be solved by proper housing.” A custom box, what Harriman calls a “microenvironment,” is a common preservation strategy.

Viewers get special access to the preservation lab at the National Archives where specialists construct custom boxes for items as varied as a Cold War-era pistol and a 1761 Indian treaty. The boxes can be simple affairs, built to house a book – or extremely complex, holding multiple, related items in multi-chambered constructions.

Conservation technician Richard Hnat shows how items are digitally measured and conservation specialist Doug McRae shows how those measurements are translated into custom instructions for the Archives’ automated box-making machine. Harriman explains that the materials used to construct housings meet rigid archival standards: they must be acid free, lignin free, be made of high cotton content, and have both fold and burst endurance.

Background on “Inside the Vaults”

“Inside the Vaults” is part of the ongoing effort by the National Archives to make its collections, stories, and accomplishments more accessible to the public. “Inside the Vaults” gives voice to Archives staff and users, highlights new and exciting finds at the Archives, and reports on complicated and technical subjects in easily understandable presentations. Earlier topics include the conservation of the original Declaration of Independence, and the 1297 Magna Carta, the transfer to the National Archives of the Nuremberg Laws, and the launch of a new National Archives user-friendly search engine. The film series is free to view and distribute on our YouTube channel at http://tiny.cc/Vaults Created by a former broadcast network news producer, the “Inside the Vaults” video shorts series presents “behind the scenes” exclusives and offer surprising glimpses of the National Archives treasures. These videos are in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions. The National Archives encourages the free distribution of them.

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