Conservation of the Dred Scott Papers
Surface cleaning is often one of the first steps in paper conservation, especially if the treatment will involve water. This is because loose dirt, which can often be easily removed before the document gets wet, can work its way into paper fibers to become difficult or even impossible to remove afterwards. We used vinyl erasers to reduce the surface dirt on the documents that had not had tissue applied to them.
To remove the tissue, we placed each document between sheets of spun polyester for support and immersed it in a bath of deionized water and calcium hydroxide. The calcium hydroxide was added to the water to raise the pH of the bath to a mildly alkaline level. This was done only after careful testing of all inks to make certain they were insoluble in water.