Western History & Genealogy Blog

Save Yourself!

Keeping the things that mean a lot to you is what separates people from animals. There are a few things to remember that can make the difference between a priceless keepsake and a faded memory.

Preservation is as much common sense as anything else. There are three enemies in the environment that should be avoided: heat, light and moisture.

  • Keeping items out of site – in a box for example – and in the dark – will go a long way toward preserving your photographs and other treasured items.
  • Another enemy of family treasures is adhesive. Almost anything that will stick to an item is bad for it. Cellophane tape, mending tape, masking tape, duct tape, electricians tape, adhesive tape.
  • Even those seemingly harmless sticky notes that come off so easily will do damage over a long period of time. Some of the oldest transparent type tapes will lose their adhesive and simply fall off – but they will leave a yellowish residue so the damage is done even when they no longer perform their function.
  • Glues and other adhesives are the enemies of the preservationist too and should be avoided. The best way to connect two items is with a plastic paper clip.
  • If a treasured letter is torn the best way to preserve it is to slip it inside a clear sleeve. Polypropylene film has the benefit of being clear and can also provide support, but is not alkaline. Since it is clear it will not need to be removed to be read.
  • One of the worst things you can do is place photos into those "sticky" or "magnetic" photo albums. Despite your best intentions to preserve those treasured photographs they start to deteriorate upon contact with the pages of the album.

Placing photographs in protective sleeves is the best way to preserve them - and be sure to:

  • note who the photo is of
  • where it was taken
  • when it was taken and
  • why it was taken