Preserving Family Photos

Preserving Family Photos
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How do you protect and preserve your treasured pictures? Just remember, the most harmful agent in photo degradation is ACID because, over time, it will deteriorate the photo. Many plastics and papers, as well as "magnetic" photo albums, use materials that are not acid free. So you might want to "dig" out your wedding pictures and albums of family snapshots and make sure that they are stored in albums made from the proper materials.
Some preservation tips and suggestions:

Use albums that are archival quality, meaning acid free.

The paper you put the photo on should likewise be acid free and lignin free. Lignin is a substance found in wood fibers of untreated paper. Over time it breaks down into acids that will harm photos and documents.

Storage boxes, envelopes and the like should also be archival quality.

Do not store your pictures in high temperature or high humidity areas, as this can cause mold or fungi development and increase the chemical reaction in the photos. So avoid attics and basements to store your precious memories.

Water and fire can ruin an entire collection. Keep pictures away from fire places, dryers and the like. Avoid water damage by storing them up off the floor and not in a basement.

Avoid prolonged exposure to light to minimize fading.

Use tapes or photo corners that are acid free to mount them on pages.

Try not to write on the picture, especially the front, as I think it's a detraction. If you must write on it though, do it on the back with an acid free pen (don't press too hard or the pen indentation will be visible on the picture side). An alternative is to write on the paper next to the picture.

Have your pictures scanned and put on CD.

You may want to consider making a copy of the pictures you want to show most often. The copy can take all the wear and tear of handling while your original sits safely in its archival storage location.

For more information on photo preservation, visit the National Park Service Conserve-O-Gram

Have an old photo that needs restored? See

To learn more about the history of photography, visit

Crafting a Green World: Crafting Memories with Shadowboxes


About The Author

Your Family Legacy was started with a desire to serve the family tree researcher. Being family researchers themselves, they know that there are many rewards and benefits in researching and documenting one's family history. Their mission is to help you in your search, and provide products using the latest technology to preserve and display your family history. Visit them at for more information on supplies and resources.

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