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Caution: Photocopying

Take care when you photocopy. Ask permission from the archive and do nothing to injure pages. The saying, “No sources, no history,” reminds us to take respectful care of the documents and artifacts in our possession.

The photocopier has been a wonderful boon for researchers. We can place the original face down on the glass, push a button, and a copy rolls out. Photocopying has also been beneficial to original documents in some ways.

Some archives have photocopied fragile originals so that researchers can use the copies and let the originals rest untouched.

Nevertheless, there are dangers. In the process of trying to get originals, especially bound versions, to lie flat, we can damage the binding and pages. Leather-bound books from Martha Ballard’s time, for instance, can crack and flake when forced face down on the glass. As a partial solution, some machines have slanted left sides that allow one page to lie flat while the other rests at an angle. In that case the book does not have to be forced wide open.

Photographing or scanning with machines that do not touch pages may also be alternatives.

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