(Thanks to @wvmierlo for bringing this to our attention)
The project aims to to better understand paper composition and conservation by analysing paper specimens from 14th-19th centuries.
From the project website:
"Historical papers vary considerably in their present-day condition for reasons that are not fully understood. This website shares the results of research on 1,578 paper specimens made between the fourteenth and the nineteenth centuries. The papers tested were selected from collections at the Newberry Library and The University of Iowa, and were analyzed using nondestructive instrumentation. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Kress Foundation, and The University of Iowa provided funding support.
The results of this 2007-10 project show that the oldest papers are often in the best condition, in part, we believe, because they contain high levels of gelatin and calcium. “People often wonder why in the digital age we should be concerned about paper stability,” says principal investigator Timothy Barrett. “Artifacts on paper often contain valuable information related to human history that is not accessible in a digital image. Not only do these artifacts need to be preserved for future generations, but paper copies that can be read without electronic hardware will continue to be essential backups to the digital record long into the future.” The results of this research will be of special interest to paper historians, paper and book conservators, and producers of archival papers."
Press release: http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2012/january/011712paper.html