Conservation of World War I Cartoons

Published: 23 March 2023

By Craig Fansler
via the ZSR Library at Wake Forest University web site

WWI cartoons from Stars and Stripes newspaper

ZSR library 1

WWI cartoons from Stars and Stripes newspaper.

The Stars and Stripes is the primary news source for the US military. It was published during World War I (1914-1918) and then, continuously since World War II. A donation to Special Collections and Archives was made which consisted of a group of cartoons from World War I.

The WWI newspaper was published in France by the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) to improve morale. These cartoons were printed on newsprint. The newsprint is roughly 100 years old, and is yellowed and very brittle. These sheets of newsprint are approximately 7” x 17 ½” and were folded over into three sections.

I wanted these newspapers to be used by our patrons and so I paused and thought for some time about an approach to these stacks of brittle newsprint. I was able to humidify the pages in my special humidification chamber… a plastic bucket (into which the paper items are placed) which sits inside a plastic trash can with a small amount of water in the bottom. No water actually touches the items in this chamber, but an overnight session inside the chamber humidifies the paper so it is relaxed, and then can be flattened.

WWI cartoons from Stars and Stripes newspaper

Following humidification and flattening, I used one inch strips of heat set tissue to attach the 3 individual pieces of each page into one page. After this process, I used a deacidification spray to reduce and neutralize the acid levels in each sheet. This spray uses magnesium oxide to neutralize the acid, and leaves an alkaline presence within the paper fibers for preservation over the long term.

Read the entire article on the ZSR Library web site here:

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