Taking the time to store and preserve a Family Bible is a very rewarding experience. You’ll be able to relax knowing that you’ve done everything in your power to preserve this piece of family history for future generations.
As with any guide – these are just basic suggestions. If you believe you have a Bible or book of cultural or artistic importance or if it is in very bad condition – consult a conservator before you do anything. You can locate a conservator near you by using the AIC’s Find a Conservator tool.
Before handling any historical item, be sure to wash and dry your hands thoroughly to prevent the transfer of oils from your skin to the item. You can opt to wear cotton gloves but it’s important to note that the cotton will dull the sensitivity of your fingers. If an item is very fragile, clean and dry hands should be enough. If your hands get dirty during the process of handling the Bible, just wash your hands again.
Before the Boxing
Prior to purchasing materials, you will need to check that all the items are of archival-quality. You can learn more about what makes something archival-quality in our Glossary.
- Measure the book. You’ll need to know the width, length and thickness of the Bible. When selecting a box, you want to leave a 1/4-1/2" of space around the item. Clamshell boxes are a good option because the back-edge lays flat when the box is open. This allows for easy access to the item.
- Choose a padding material. An archival-quality tissue paper is your best bet. You’ll be using it to wrap and pad the Bible inside the box.
- Remove any records, newspaper clippings and other loose items. Scan or photograph them then store them individually in appropriately sized archival paper or plastic enclosures. For paper enclosures, label the outside with a pencil.
- Check for handwritten notes. Bibles often have a list of births, wedding and deaths. Take photographs or scan the pages so that information is available after safely storing the Bible away.
4-Steps to Safe Storage
- Interleave pages with written notes. This will prevent the handwriting from bleeding to the opposite page. You can interleave pages with tissue or bond paper.
- Box it Up. Line the box with unbuffered tissue then gently place the Bible in the box. Use the tissue to wrap the Bible. You’ll want to pad any extra space on the sides of the Bible to prevent the item from sliding around. Place the loose items on top of the tissue.
- Label the box. To prevent unnecessary handling, be sure to clearly label the box.
- Store it away. Store your Bible where you live. Keep it safe in closets, even under your bed. Your preference for a stable temperature with a steady humidity level is also excellent for your Family Bible.