Fauquier County Public Library

Preserving Photographs and Memorabilia: Part 2

Posted by marysue on

Welcome back for part two of the “Preserving Photographs and Memorabilia” blog! In Preserving Photographs and Memorabilia Part 1 we discussed preparing organizing and preparing photographs for preservation. Now it is time to start with the preservation part of the process!

Step Two: Scanning and Digitizing

A good way to preserve and share photographs for future generations is to digitize them. A scanner with good resolution for both black-and-white and color photographs is necessary. A good software program for editing photographs is highly suggested; many programs will allow you to actually enhance the quality or restore damaged photographs. See these Family Tree Magazine articles about scanners and free online photo editing. If you do not have scanning capability, many companies offer scanning and restoration services.

For memorabilia, you can take a picture or scan an item to have a digital record of it. This enables you to share the memorabilia with family. If possible, photocopy or scan newspaper clippings, as newsprint is extremely acidic and deteriorates more rapidly than most paper material.

Be aware of format changes that occur as technology changes. Many people regret leaving their precious photographs in only digital format on their phone or stored to the Cloud, only to lose them to format changes or damaged hardware/software. The most important photographs should be printed and/or backed up on multiple devices or in various formats. Storing photographs digitally is also a fun and affordable way to share them with family.

Suggested reading:

Step Three: Preserving

There are many ways to preserve photographs and memorabilia. How you preserve them may depend on your cost, storage capability, time and expertise.

Archival preservation materials can be costly. It is important to use only acid and lignin-free products, as these will prolong the life of your materials. The types of products you might utilize include:

  • Scrapbooks with mounting corners to avoid putting adhesives directly on the item;
  • Memorabilia clear pockets or envelopes to encapsulate an item and place it into a scrapbook;
  • Enclosures – these fully encapsulate an item from dust, air, and light. They are especially helpful for letters or items which may fade easily. You can even get enclosures that can be made to fit any size of photograph or memorabilia;
  • Boxes and similar preservation materials – popular sources include:

Storage should be in an area that can be kept at a constant temperature and humidity. The ideal temperature is between 60-70 degrees, with 30-50% humidity and no direct sunlight. For more detailed information, see the guidelines for preservation from the National Archives or the Library of Congress. Also, Cyndi’s List has some great articles and information on preservation.

Suggested reading:

Check out these and other books which may help in your quest to preserve your photographs and memorabilia for future generations. They are all available at your local Fauquier County Public Library location.

Happy Preserving!

Mary Sue, Reference, Bealeton library

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