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A Genealogist In The Archives: Removing Staples From Genealogical Records

Monday, October 16, 2017

Removing Staples From Genealogical Records

One of the first rules in archiving documents that all archives that archivists follow is: Remove all metal from documents. This includes staples, paper clips, straight pins and any other fasteners keeping documents together that are metal.

Some of you are probably thinking, "I know how to remove staples, what's the big deal?"

As an archivist I have seen many documents damaged by those that thought they knew how to remove staples and yet still damaged their documents.

It is not unusual for all of us to find rusty staples attaching documents together in our genealogical records. Archivist encounter staples on a daily basis and removing them is of utmost importance.

Staples can rust and damage genealogical documents. Over time, with the act of turning the documents over and over, can cause the staples to tear the documents. Removing staples is an easy process and if done properly will not damage genealogical documents.

Do Not Use a claw staple remover that looks like this:

These can cause more damage to documents than helping to remove the staple.

Do Not Use this wand staple remover that looks like this:

These can also cause more damage to documents than helping to remove the staple.

In the archives, we use an archival microspatula to remove staples that looks like this:

The process to remove staples is an easy one:

-Turn the stapled documents over so you are seeing the back of the staple.

-Using the archival microspatula, gently pry up the two prongs

-Turn the stapled documents over to the front and using the archival microspatula, gently lift out the staple from the documents

Viola! The staple is removed!

Admittedly, this process takes more time to do than using a claw staple remover. Keep in mind that the goal is to do the least amount of damage as possible. Using this staple removing process will insure that no damage is done to the document or at least kept to a minimum.

Archivists and Genealogists both know the importance of genealogical records. Preserving these records is important and something we should all do.



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  1. I believe you posted about this wonderful tool before? I bought it based on your recommendation and it is the best thing EVER!

    1. Yes! It is a a must have for every genealogist!

  2. Thank you for this information. What is a safe way to bind pages together so multipage documents in our files do not become separated?

    1. Hello, we use plastic paper clips or plastic coated paper clips in the archives. They come in different sizes to handle multiple pages. Thank You for reading my blog!