Queries and Answers: Faded Document Fixes


Alex wrote: A friend of mine has her forebear’s original certificate of membership in the Society of the Cincinnati signed by George Washington. Washington’s signature is so faded, it is almost gone. How can his signature be restored and preserved?

There are several steps you can take to enhance the signature on a document. In the March/April 2008 issue of the Digital Genealogist, I wrote an article, “Improving the Readability of Digital Documents.” One of the things you can do is scan the document. I actually recommend scanning it in color as a high resolution TIFF file then converting it to black and white in a photo editing program. Using the sharpen feature combined with contrast tweaks and zooming in for delicate fixes should enable you to enhance the signature.

If you would like to stabilize the writing so that it doesn’t continue to fade, the best route is to hire a professional paper conservator. You can locate one in your area by contacting the American Institute for the Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works.


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