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A Genealogist In The Archives: Remove Staples Like An Archivist

Monday, February 13, 2017

Remove Staples Like An Archivist

One of the first rules in archiving documents that all archives and 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 damaged documents 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. Excellent tip...I've been using the wand remover ever since they came out so that's stopping right now!!! Thanks!

    1. Thank You for reading my blog! Remember, you are a home archivist! Taking care of your records should as important as collecting them.

  2. Thanks for the education. I've been using the first tool, to pull the prongs up in back, the turning the document over to pull out the loosened staple. I'll look for the other tool.

    1. Robbi, I think you will find that it might take a bit more time to remove the staples but the comfort in knowing that you won't cause any damage is nice. Thank You for reading my blog!

  3. Very practical and timely advice. Thank you!

    1. Marian, you are very Welcome! Remember, genealogists are home archivists! Thank You for reading my blog!

  4. Where do you find them, in office supply stores? (Yes, I know, it stands to reason).

    1. You can purchase them from Amazon, Gaylord Archival. I haven't looked for them at office supply stores. Thank You for reading my blog. If you need more help, please email me at