Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Family History Mission: Antique Paper Fasteners

No. 47

Note: You can do a Google search for "A Family History Mission James Tanner" to see all the previous posts in this ongoing series. You can also search for "James Tanner genealogy" and find them.

One of the major tasks here at the Maryland State Archives is preparing documents for digitization. The documents come folded up in bundles that haven't been opened for up to two hundred years or more. They need to be carefully unfolded and flattened as much as possible. Some of the documents have a variety of paper fastener devices. We have been collecting a few of the type of fasteners dating back well over a hundred years.

If we go back far enough, the only fasteners used were pins. The old pins are handmade and very sharp. You can see a few examples of the types of fasteners in the photo above. You can click on the photo for a closer view.

We are supposed to remove all the metal fasteners because they often get corroded and ruin the paper. The papers we are handling, for the most part, are not "valuable" except for the information they contain. Over time, many of the documents were are now processing would be lost to mold, water damage or simple chemical disintegration.  Without this intervention, the valuable information in the documents would be lost forever. 


  1. What fun to see these old fasteners. I think you should save them and create a little display. (From someone who loves all things having to do with paper and office products, current and antique.)

  2. Great example of material culture.

    It looks like the archive does not have you catalog the fasteners by document and date as you remove them. Do they go into a general collection?

    1. These are collected by the volunteers doing the document prep work. The archives wants all the metal removed. We just kept a sample of the fasteners there is no formal display.