Saving South Carolina's Constitutions

Jun 18, 2018

(Originally broadcast 10/20/17) - Millions of historic documents in the U.S., from presidential papers to personal slave journals, are facing an issue apart from age: a preservation method that has backfired. The process of laminating documents between sheets of cellulose acetate film, widely practiced from the 1950s through the 1970s, has now been determined to actually contribute to the deterioration of acid-containing paper.

Among the documents at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History that have been laminated, and are now in need of restoration are South Carolina's seven state constitutions. Dr. Eric Emerson, director of the department, talks with Walter Edgar about steps being undertaken to delaminate, stabilize, and correctly store these irreplaceable documents, and about the importance of South Carolina's archives.

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