Manufactured in Europe starting in the XIIIth century, paper was first made from hemp or linen rags, then later from cotton rags, unlike parchment, which is made from animal hides. In the XIXth century, rising textile prices led to almost systematic use of wood in paper production.
Nevertheless, textile fibers were still used to produce particularly important documents, like notarized deeds.
This change in raw materials prevented a rise in production costs but had a considerable impact on the conservation of our documents. While hemp, linen, and cotton are made entirely of cellulose, an extremely stable and hardy molecule, wood-pulp paper only contains 50% cellulose. The other half is made up of lignin and hemicelluloses, components which, due to their sensitivity to chemical reactions and light, accelerate paper aging.
That’s why the archives must always be stored in darkness, at temperatures and humidity levels which prevent potential chemical reactions, remaining constant to keep the paper from warping