Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 1, Number 5-6
Dec 1994


Arthur D. Little's 1903 Report on Paper Permanence

Arthur D. Little, whose technical consulting firm today is so well-known, worked as a chemist and file clerk at the Richmond Paper Company in Rumford, Rhode Island, after dropping out of MIT in 1884. He was soon running the mill for the absent owners, and inventing digesters and other equipment for the paper industry. It was a long time before he was able to make a good living, though. His company operated on a shoestring for its first 25 years or so, despite Little's international reputation as a problem-solver and consultant in a number of fields as well as papermaking.

This information is from a chapter in a collection of biographies written sometime after 1969, with the title The Problem Solvers. Arthur D. Little, Inc.'s Corporate Communications office in Cambridge sent selected pages from this book to the Alkaline Paper Advocate office on request. Perhaps this was by way of an apology for the office's inability to furnish the one report that Arthur D. Little himself is known to have written on the subject of paper permanence, "The Durability of Paper," (Printing Art, Cambridge, 1903, v.1, no. 4, p. 115-118).

The reference and an abstract did turn up, however, in a 1929 bibliography compiled by Robert P. Walton and published in the Bulletin of the New York Public Library v. 33 #4, "Causes and Prevention of Deterioration in Book Materials." The abstract reads,

Emphasizes the distinction between groundwood papers and wood-fiber papers. The latter, when made from properly purified wood fibers as bleach sulfite and soda fiber, is of much greater permanence than the former. "In a ground-wood paper ultimate disintegration is certain, whereas in pure fibres the change should only come through inadvertance. . . The unregulated use of bleaching agents is probably responsible for the destruction of more high grade paper than any other cause. In selecting a paper for durability one should therefore avoid papers which are brilliantly white unless he can assure himself that the fibre substance has in no way suffered, and that all traces of the chemicals used in bleaching have been removed." A general specification is given for a durable paper.

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URL: http://cool.conservation-us.org/byorg/abbey/ap/ap07/ap07-5/ap07-501.html
Timestamp: Sunday, 03-Mar-2013 21:42:33 PST
Retrieved: Thursday, 23-Nov-2017 20:32:48 GMT