The Library of Virginia is working to preserve the executive records from Thomas Jefferson's service as governor of the Commonwealth.
Jefferson served during the Revolutionary War, and the 2,500 documents include letters from military leaders, as well as correspondence about land disputes and trade.
The Library's senior paper conservator Leslie Courtois describes how repair work completed in the 1930s coated the records in plastic, which now risks further damage to the delicate cotton-fiber paper that Jefferson used.
"At the time it was considered a cutting-edge treatment to preserve documents, but the plastic would degrade, it would release acid, causing breakdown of the cellulous fibers," says Courtois.
The Library received a grant from the National Park Service to help protect the records. It will cost about $220,000 to preserve the documents.