Monday, May 12, 2008

Preserving Your Family's Precious Photos And Documents

StatePoint- We all want our precious photos, documents and news clippings to last a lifetime, if not longer.

Preserving your family's priceless memories and keepsakes needn't be expensive, especially if you know how to store them.

Linda Angle Miller, college archivist at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, offers these helpful preservation tips that are easy and cheap:

"Keep your documents and photos, especially color photos, out of direct sun and away from florescent lighting. The same UV rays that give us wrinkles make photos fade," she says.

Besides insects and mice, the deadliest elements to documents and photos are light, heat and humidity. Simply by storing photos and papers in "cool" areas, you are already on your way to preserving life's treasures.

Also, avoid basements, garages and cellars, since humidity can cause mold.

"Tapes and glues generally have acids in them that discolor the paper and make them deteriorate. Tapes may repair tears but will yellow the paper," says Roanoke College's Miller.

Using ink and markers can be a bad idea, since they can bleed through documents and photos, so be careful!

These simple mistakes even have been made by the federal government. One U.S. Secretary of the Treasury had his office staff glue all his newspaper clippings into a notebook with rubber cement. Over the years, the glue dried and no longer kept many of the clippings in place and caused discoloration on many others. Precious history damaged!

The acids in paper are what cause it to deteriorate and become brittle, but there are certain products available that will help you preserve your documents -- such as archival or "acid free" papers, folders and boxes.

When preserving photographs, black and white ones are more stable than color, which begin fading from the time they are printed.

Some simple suggestions that Miller stresses are: use Kodak and Fuji papers for long-term preservation; avoid ink jet prints since they can run and get wet; and use an archival mat when placing photos in a glass frame to avoid damaging adhesion.

Scanning photos onto CDs also is a good idea as long as they do not become scratched or warped. If this happens, then your photos are no longer accessible. And remember, in the future you will have to reformat when CDs become obsolete due to whatever comes next in the technology wave.

It's never too early to begin properly storing photos. Those pictures of your newborn child all too quickly become images of days gone by, so don't let them fade and degrade with the passage of time.

Think of it this way -- if a moment is worth capturing on film or in a document, it's worth saving well.

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