A Smattering of Matters

Submitted by shoe on Wed, 10/03/2007 - 13:09

I have a little historical/archival conundrum. You can read more about it here. The short version, for those that don't want to click on the linkyloo, is this... I found some papers, all rolled up (for lack of a better word) dating to/concerning the Spanish-American War. They were hidden a bit behind a desk at the Hysterical Society, in a pile of things the last cataloger labeled "To be catalogued". All well and good, but they were loose, in a room with no climate control (a thorn in my side, constantly) and covered in cobwebs and dust.
I am in the process of (carefully) extricating the papers from their tightly rolled state and trying to uncurl them. They seem, actually, in surprisingly good condition (no mold, just dust). I am assuming I will catalog them as a manuscript collection (just what I've seen so far is fascinating... Who thought latrine duty orders would be so engaging?)
The earliest paper I've seen (and I've only looked at like four or five of them) dates to about 1908 (a bit after the war, I know) and the latest was dated 1912... I expect I will find some earlier and some later in the two rolls of papers.
Here's the thing, oh wise LISNEWsters, is there anything I need to watch out for in uncurling the objects? We are without a formal press... so we use old bits of library shelving (cleaned, of course) for such things. The papers don't seem exceptionally brittle. I just don't want to be placing anything on those papers that might damage them.
Is there a quick and easy (and safe!) way of uncurling them? I know the archival places sell nice little weights... but I think buying nice little weights might be beyond us (I fear they'll say, "Use the shelving!") I mean, there are two rolls about 3-5 inches thick. That's a lot of paper, and a lot of shelving I'd need to use.
And I feel so funny about this... One of the wads of documents is actually still held in its paper band adhesives. Should be easy enough to open even without fancy schmancy archival tools, and historically it doesn't do much good to leave it shut in its bands. I mean, after all, I don't know for sure this was has anything to do with the conflict. (Although I imagine it does.) I just feel so funny opening a bunch of papers that obviously been sealed for a hundred years. (Hey, it may have been sitting on that shelf for a hundred years, for all I know.)
In other news, since AP was cool to ask... Recovery from the surgery was easy. Still feel very fatigued, but the back pain is gone. Gone! The legs and hips still bother me, but this has offered a bit of relief.