Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Hours and Admissions

Letters and Paper Heirlooms


Governor Orville Freeman looking at the State Library Division bookmobile, 4/16/1959. Photograph Collection. Location no. L7 r132, Negative no. 51606
Governor Orville Freeman looking at the
State Library Division bookmobile,
  • Display copies of important documents instead of the originals
    • If originals are displayed, keep light exposure to a minimum:
    • Display a document for a while and then store it so that no single item is exposed to light for long periods of time.
    • Turn off the lights when no one is in a room. Use lower wattage bulbs.
    • Place on walls that get the least amount of sun.
  • Close draperies and blinds when out of the room for extended periods of time or when not at home.
  • Use ultra-violet filtering glass or acrylic for framed paper items. Use an acid-free mat or a spacer so the document does not touch the glass.


  • Store important documents in a cool, dry place where there is minimal fluctuation in temperature and humidity. Generally avoid attics and basements.
  • Letters and other documents are best stored unfolded and flat. Items too large to store flat are better stored rolled than folded.
  • Use acid-free sleeves, envelopes, storage boxes, or albums. Polyester or polypropylene sleeves and pages are also acceptable.
  • Never put an adhesive on a document or paper that you wish to keep permanently. Use photo corners, or polyester mounting strips or sleeves to mount items in albums.
  • Remove paper clips and rubber bands, both of which can cause permanent damage to paper.
  • Keep highly acidic paper such as newspapers and clippings from touching other paper items.
  • If newspaper clippings are being kept for the content as distinct from keeping the original paper as an artifact, photocopy onto acid-free paper, which will last much longer than the original.
  • Handle your important paper items by their edges and with clean hands to avoid soiling the surface.

Other Resources

This handout is being distributed by the Conservation Outreach Program of the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) as a public service. The distribution of this handout does not constitute a recommendation by MHS of any specific vendor or their products, nor will MHS assume liability for products supplied by a vendor. Each application must be evaluated individually and materials selected that best suit the condition of the object and how it is to be used. If you have questions about a particular application, treatment, or service, please contact the MHS Conservation Outreach program at: 651-259-3465, 1-800-657-3773, FAX at 651-296-9961 or email at conservationhelp@mnhs.org.