Due to a small Archives
staff and unanticipated eventualities, patrons are urged to call
ahead to verify public hours for a given day or week.
PRESERVATION TIPS FOR FAMILY RECORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHS*
Preservation Basics Keep family records in a stable
environment. Avoid storing documents and memorabilia in areas subject to
extremes in temperature and humidity such as basements, garages, and
attics. Do not shelve collections above radiators, on fireplace mantels,
or near water pipes. Avoid displaying or storing items against outside
walls where condensation may occur. A combination of heat and humidity
encourages mold growth and insect activity. Keep items out of direct
light. Sunlight and fluorescent light are the causes of fading,
discoloration, and other chemical changes. Provide a storage environment
that is clean, cool, and dark to assure protection for paper records,
photographs, and other memorabilia.
Reversibility Sound preservation practices allow you to
reverse past attempts to preserve materials without causing damage to
them. Whatever steps are taken to protect personal records should not
permanently alter or damage them. For example, using a pen or felt tip
marker to label an item damages it by staining or bleeding through of
the ink. A no. 2 pencil is recommended for labeling. Lamination is
another process that is not reversible. The plastic coating permanently
bonds to the document, and attempts to remove the lamination destroys
the surface of the original document.
Identification Label the backs of documents or photographs
with information about the date of the event, the source of the item,
names and ages of participants, a description of the event, and
location. Use a no. 2 pencil.
Protect documents from light and dust by storing them in acid-free
folders and document storage boxes.
Do not repair torn documents with adhesive tape or rubber cement.
They will eventually stain and damage documents. Removable stickies
(e.g. Post-it Notes) also leave a residue that stains even after
removal. Archival quality tapes are available.
Do not use paper clips, staples, or straight pins to fasten items.
They eventually rust, stain, and tear paper. Do not use rubber
bands. They harden and bond to paper. Store collections of documents
together in archival quality file folders and boxes.
Use copies of originals for display. Protect the originals by
storing them in archival sleeves, folders, and boxes.
Photocopy newspaper clippings onto buffered paper. Newspaper is
highly acidic and becomes brittle and discolored.
Scrapbooks and Photo Albums
Store and display photographs in 3-ring binders with archival
quality sleeves. If you do not use sleeves, attach photographs and
postcards with archival photo corners such as Mylar or paper
mounting corners. (Sleeves are sold under a variety of trade names
including polyethylene, polypropylene, and Mylar. Photo shops may
sell them. Do not purchase sleeves labeled “archival,” which are not
identified by trade name and never use vinyl (PVC or polyvinyl
chloride) for storing your materials. If the sleeve smells like
plastic, it is not of archival storage quality.
Use white or off-white, acid free, 80# paper as pages in the
scrapbook. Display on one side of the page only. Leave a blank page
at the beginning and end of the book for support and protection. An
artist’s sketchpad works well for a scrapbook. Be sure that it is
made of 100% cotton fiber.
Handle negatives and photographs by their edges or use clean
cotton gloves. Hands have oils on them that stain images.
Do not store photos in magnetic photo albums. The photos are
stained and damaged by the adhesives and plastics used in them. Use
the photo album suggested above.
Label photographs on the reverse side of the image along the
margins. Use a no. 2 pencil for labeling.
Preservation Products for Preserving Family Records and
Call or email these companies for free catalogs or check their web
*These are merely general guidelines. Types of materials vary as
do their conditions. The UWSP Archives is not responsible for any
problems or damage that may occur if you follow any of the tips outlined
**The UWSP Archives does not endorse the companies listed above.
Our intent is to provide a service to researchers who frequently ask
about preservation products and services. Be advised that many other
companies offer preservation products and services.