We often get questions about how to preserve old, historic or archival items that people have in their homes. Some common questions are:
How do I find someone to fix the binding on a rare book?
How should I store a box of photos that used to be kept in my grandparents’ attic?
I have some rolled-up family documents that are stained and brittle - can they be restored?
There are some terrific websites out there that can help guide you in storing or stabilizing your own archives at home. Here are a few of our favorite resources:
- NEDCC - New England Conservation Center - preservation leaflets - A trove of subject specific guides for best practices in preserving materials. These keyword searchable guides can help with specific format types, digital preservation guidelines, and even disaster mitigation.
- Conserve O Grams from the National Park Service - A strong resource for best practices in managing physical objects including items made of wood, metal, natural history, or taxidermy. This is a good resource for museums as well as personal collections.
One important thing we hope people will understand is that there are professionals, known as conservators, who specialize in repair, cleaning, and restoration of historic objects, archival materials, textiles, and art.
Conservators have extensive scientific knowledge in their area of specialization and they are best equipped to conduct safe treatments that will preserve and protect cultural heritage materials. There are definitely projects you do not want to try yourself (such as cleaning photographs or paintings) because you could permanently damage the item. If your preservation project is complicated, you can may want to find a conservator:
- The American Institute for Conservation Find-a-Conservator directory - You can search for a professional conservator in your area to get expert advice on your preservation issue.
Many conservators and book binderies in Denver and the Rocky Mountain region have informative websites where you can learn more about what’s possible to repair or restore your treasures!
Thanks for the useful tips. I am preserving copies of my high school newspaper and your expertise has been really helpful to me.
We are glad you found this information helpful! Thanks for commenting. Good luck with your preservation project!