The other week I had the opportunity to wash, rinse and deacidify a large quantity of documents at the ERO. The documents were marriage licenses, of which the ERO holds many, and had previously been surface cleaned. Thus they were ready for washing, in warm water with a little Synperonic, and were then rinsed in another water bath, before being deacidified in a bath containing enough Calcium Carbonate to bring the pH levels up to around 8.

My first project at the ERO involved working on another set of marriage licenses (see portfolio), so this process was very familiar to me. It provided a good opportunity to work on a large number of documents in a short space of time, with the aim being to treat as many as possible in one afternoon, with three baths on the go and an item in each at all times. The need for careful handling was also paramount, as the documents were badly mould damaged, and particularly vulnerable when wet.

 

The three baths left to right: deacidification, wash, rinse (not completed in this order)

 

Removing a document from the deacidification bath.

 

Carefully removing the Reemay support from the document, after it has been placed onto a piece of Terylene on a drying rack.