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Subject: Water damage to microfilm

Water damage to microfilm

From: Suzanne Singleton <msingleton>
Date: Wednesday, February 1, 2006
I am posting this query on behalf of a professor of history from my
institution, whose personal collections were damaged by Hurricane
Katrina in Mississippi. Can anyone suggest how to salvage this
microfilm? Thank you.

    Among the items I was able to recover from Katrina are a number
    of reels of microfilm I had bought at various times. All the
    reels were in their paper cartons and were in various drawers of
    steel file cabinets. All the reels were submerged in the tidal
    wave, but since the water receded by degrees not all the reels
    stayed under water for the full three hours. Two of the reels
    are clearly damaged beyond repair. The others may be viewable at
    least in part. I have examined six of the reels and trimmed off
    the couple of feet of lead-in film, which of course was closest
    to the surface and therefore had the most exposure to sea water.
    Since the reels were tightly wound, the main damage to the
    interior of the reels is along the edges rather than to the
    inner surface where the images are printed. When I hold the film
    up to the light, I can see what looks like watermarks here and
    there in the images. The film is dry, and I see no evidence of
    mud (except in the cardboard cartons) or of oil, though the
    first three or four feet of each reel feel slightly sticky.

    My question is this: What is the proper procedure for cleaning
    microfilm that has been exposed to sea water? I am afraid to try
    to view the reels to see if the images are readable, because I
    am worried about the stickiness of the first three or four feet.
    Also, should the reels be frozen for 48 hours the way paper
    archives should be? I know that photographers store unexposed
    film in freezers all the time with no damage to the emulsion.
    Would the same be true for exposed film?

Suzanne Singleton
Assistant Reference Librarian
James A. Rogers Library
Francis Marion University
PO Box 100547
Florence, SC 29501-0547
Fax: 843-661-1309

                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:35
                 Distributed: Monday, February 6, 2006
                       Message Id: cdl-19-35-038
Received on Wednesday, 1 February, 2006

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