An important part of the European cultural heritage is composed of hand-written documents. Many of these documents were drawn up with iron-gall ink. This type of ink present a serious conservation problem, as it slowly oxidizes ('burns') the paper it is written on, thereby gradually disintegrating the historic document. Acid hydrolysis of the cellulose and/or the oxidation of organic compounds promoted by radical intermediates that are formed due to the presence of Fe 2+ ions are considered to be the cause of the disintegration. μ-XANES measurements were performed with a lateral resolution of 30-50 μm in order to determine the local Fe 2+/Fe 3+ ratio in 19th C. documents from the Austrian National Archives and fragments of 16th C documents from the Polish National Library. In the 19th C documents, no significant amount of Fe 2+ was detected. On the other hand, in the 16th C fragments, significant amounts of Fe 2+ and appreciable differences in distribution of Fe 2+ and Fe 3+ within individual letters/ink stains were observed.