Artifacts for the Archives

By Sharon DeBartolo Carmack Premium

Once you’ve found all these family treasures, what should you do with them? How do you ensure they’ll be around for many generations to come? For all of your family artifacts, documents and heirlooms, take the proper precautions outlined in the books listed in the box on the next page. Here are some suggestions:

• Always handle historical items with great care. Wash your hands before handling and, if possible, wear white cotton gloves.

• Never write directly on photographs, front or back. It’s best to put photos in acid-free sheet protectors and label the sheet protector.

• Never put photographs, newspaper clippings or documents in albums with plastic-covered magnetic sheets. Never use tape, glue or other non-archival adhesive products because they will permanently damage the items.

• Copy an old photograph by taking a picture of the photo with a 35 mm camera that has adjustable lenses. Take it to a professional photographer or a print shop that has a Kodak Picture Maker. You can also scan it on your computer. Keep in mind, however, that you don’t want to expose a historical photo or document to the bright light of scanners and photocopiers any more than necessary.

• Make copies of all historical documents. Keep the copies in your genealogy files, enclose the originals in acid-free protectors, and store them in a safe place.

• Keep all historical documents and artifacts in a safe, dry, cool place away from vermin. If you live in a humid environment, pay particular attention to preservation. When I lived in Florida, my high school yearbooks were packed away in a cardboard box. When I unpacked them after moving to Colorado, I discovered mold and mildew had eaten away many of the pages. If you want something to last for generations, don’t leave it to chance; make sure you take precautions to preserve your precious items now.

Archival Suppliers

Archival Products

Box 1413

Des Moines, IA 50305

(800) 526-5640


Light Impressions

Box 787

Brea, CA 92822

(800) 828-6216


University Products

Box 101

Holyoke, MA 01041

(800) 628-1912


On the Bookshelf

Grandma’s Attic: Making Heirlooms Part of Your Family History by Russell D. Earnest (Russell D. Earnest Associates)

Organizing and Preserving Your Heirloom Documents by Katherine Scott Sturdevant (Betterway Books)

Preserving Your Family Photographs by Maureen A. Taylor (Betterway Books)

Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs by Maureen A. Taylor (Betterway Books)
 From the April 2003 issue of Family Tree Magazine.