July 2011 Family Archivist
Advice on choosing archival supplies and saving old letters.

Ask the Archivist: Choosing Archival Supplies

Preserve your family heirlooms -- and your budget -- with help from Practical Archivist Sally Jacobs. She shares penny-pinching pointers she picked up while working on collections at the Library of Congress and the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Q. What are the benefits of using high-quality archival supplies?

A. There's nothing magical about them that stops time, but they do slow down external factors that cause deterioration. Items that pass the Photographic Activity Test (PAT) are not going to interact with your photographs over time. Archival tissue cushions artifacts and helps them keep their shape. Metal edges give archival boxes strength and allow the box to be put together without potentially harmful glue.