Photographs and Family Documents

There are many products on the market to protect your photographs and papers. A lot of what’s available will work well for both photographs and documents, such as polyester sleeves and the wide variety of archival boxes. I've included a few examples that will give you an idea of where to start.

In general, each photograph should have its own enclosure.  This could be a window mat, an acid free folder or envelope, or a plastic sleeve usually made of uncoated polyester.  You can also use buffered interleaving tissue paper in between your photographs before housing them in archival enclosures.  For an in-depth explanation of what archival means, including further clarification on terms like acid free, pH neutral, buffered vs. unbuffered see: Storage Enclosures for Photographic Materials

Whether you choose paper or plastic enclosures will depend on what you have. For instance, is it important to reduce handling of the photo (plastic) or do you need something to better protect against humidity (paper)? Once individual photographs are protected, they should be stored in archival quality boxes.  Prints and negatives should not be stored together since film-based negatives can produce acidic gasses as they age.

See Care of Photographs for more details about paper vs. plastic and additional tips.

Older Formats

Store cased objects, such as daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, in their original cases or frames with the addition of custom-made, four-flap paper enclosures to reduce wear and tear on fragile cases. (A.I.C. Caring for Your Treasures-Photographs)

General Guidelines for Handling Photographs

  1. Handle photographs at the edges with clean, dry hands.

  2. Store photographs in albums that have acid-free pages or polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene sleeves.

  3. Mount photographs with photo corners, not glue or tape.

  4. Store photographs in an environment where you are comfortable. Basements can be damp and lead to mold.

  5. Protect from direct sunlight when displaying.

                    -See additional Quick Tips for information on Documents,                                          Scrapbooks and more.