29th July 2016


Archives are conserved not only to repair current damage, but also to protect them from further environmental damage and from the wear and tear when handled.


Twentieth-century archives pose particular challenges for conservation. Older documents on parchment are relatively robust, but twentieth-century paper records are often made of highly acidic material, which is prone to yellowing, cracking and foxing.

Foxed 1940s paper

Foxed paper from the 1940s


During the last century packaging material used for arranging high volumes of paper records also became more widely available. In the Holst collection items such as paper clips, folders, plastic wallets, and even lunch bags were used to sort documents. However, in the long term, these packaging materials can cause serious damage to the collection.

Damage to a manuscript caused by adhesive tape and rusting paper clip

Damage to a manuscript caused by adhesive tape and rusting paper clip


Halting the damage


Basic preventative conservation measures are implemented by the project archivist and volunteers. These include:


  • cleaning dirt and dust from items
  • removing damaging materials, such as rusting paper clips
  • repackaging items in acid-free envelopes


Some items from the collection are in need of more specialist treatments and repairs. For the project we have engaged the services of a specialist paper conservator to:


  • repair damaged bindings and loose pages of books
  • repair tears in music manuscripts and other papers
  • make bespoke boxes for fragile records