How was paper recycled?

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Dayton Daily Empire March 7, 1864
pen and ink soldier
cross writing 2
wisconsin soldiers
wallpaper paper
staunton spectator
paper recycled letters

Writing paper, envelopes, books and wrapping paper were hard to find in the South during the War. When the supply of paper made from wood pulp ran short, paper mills used linen and cotton rags to make paper so that important news and information could still be shared between generals, soldiers, families and businesses.

As the War continued, the supply of paper ran out and the rags were needed for dressing wounds, so Southerners began smuggling paper in from North and from as far away as England. They also began using substitutes. Newspapers used “necessary paper,” printing on everything from cornhusks to wallpaper to old bags.

Desperate for information, soldiers and civilians sent messages on pages torn out of books, the backs of pictures and the space left on old letters. Envelopes were made from folded letters, previously used envelopes, advertising flyers and from wall paper.

Did you know? Americans use over 85,000,000 tons of paper every year. That's about 680 pounds per person.

recycled paper rcw

This exhibition has been created by the City of Manassas Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Solid Waste with the gracious help of the Manassas Museum, Library of Congress and the American Civil War Museum.