To mark the American Library Association’s Preservation Week, the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives and the UMass Dartmouth Archives and Special Collections are providing these simple tips to help preserve your family records for future generations to enjoy.
1. Store your photos and paper records “where you live.” Avoid storing them in attics and basements, which can be subject to excessive heat and/or moisture. A closet, which also avoids light damage, is a good choice.
2. Never laminate newspaper clippings or other paper records. If you want to use see-through enclosures, make sure you choose ones made from preservation-grade polyester, such as Melinex. Polyethylene and polypropylene are ok if they contain no plasticizers. Avoid PVC, or polyvinyl chloride.
3.Don’t touch the surfaces of photographs. Even fairly clean hands can leave skin oils on the emulsion surface of the photo. Photos are basically paper coated with a chemical layer. They are vulnerable! Hold them by the edges or use white cotton gloves.
4. Identify your photographs. Without names, dates and other contextual information, in 50 years they might be meaningless to family members. Write very lightly on the back with pencil. Never use pens or ink, which may bleed through to the front over time.
5. Avoid adhesives of any kind – glues, tapes, magnetic photo albums. There is no truly archival adhesive. Use photo corners when mounting precious items in an album or scrapbook, so that no adhesives touch the originals.