AncestorNews: Preserving Priceless Family Treasures
A few days before Christmas, my cousin arrived at my house with a priceless treasure—my grandmother’s wedding dress. The dress has ivory lace with a gathered satin band around the waist. Originally, it would have had an undergarment of some kind. For being 90 years old, the dress is in remarkably good condition—no tears of any kind and only one small stain.
The dress is beautiful with an intricate design. It’s tiny and short (two features I don’t remember associating with my grandmother) but she probably looked a lot different in 1913 than I remember her in 1959.
My main concerns are how to remove the stain and whether I should attempt to remove it. I want to preserve the dress for future generations. I searched the Internet and found several excellent sites on preservation. I discovered that light is a primary culprit in discoloring or yellowing textiles and that the rate of deterioration is determined by the length and strength of exposure. Other damaging factors are high temperature and airborne contaminants. I also discovered that several types of storage containers emit harmful chemicals. An acid-free archival storage box seems to be my best bet. I’d like to display the dress, but I need to do further research before I tackle that. I suspect a phone call to a textile expert is in the future.
I’d love to hear about your special family treasure. Write and tell me about it. Send a digital photo if you have one. Some of the best sites I found for preserving your family treasures are:
• American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
• Storing Antique Textiles
• Northern States Conservation Center
• War Letters
• Preserving Photographs
• Preserving Documents and Photographs
Nancy Hendrickson is a contributing editor for Family Tree Magazine. She also is a family historian, freelance writer and the author of the upcoming book, Finding Your Roots Online, on sale May 2003. Her Web site is at www.ancestornews.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org