Cold Comfort

By Maureen A. Taylor Premium

Storing color prints and negatives in the freezer can dramatically slow their rates of deterioration. For cold storage in your home, you’ll need a frost-free freezer, airtight zipper-sea! storage bags made of polypropylene or polyethylene, acid- and lignin-free boxes, and cotton gloves for handling the images. The bags, boxes and gloves are available from most archival suppliers. Or you can buy a ready-made freezer kit (sans freezer) from Metal Edge <> for about $70.

  1. Purchase a small frost-free freezer that can maintain a low humidity level and a temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t use the freezer in which you keep your food. Opening the freezer on a regular basis could change the storage environment and cause condensation on the images stored inside.
  2. To protect prints and negatives from temperature and humidity fluctuations, double-wrap them in freezer bags, and then place them in boxes.
  3. When it’s time to remove your photos or negatives from cold storage, follow these recommendations from the National Archives and Records Administration:

? Place the materials in an area away from direct heat, so they can warm up gradually.

? Don’t remove the photographs from their storage bags until they’ve reached room temperature.

? Before opening the storage bags, wipe the outside clean of any moisture that’s formed.

 From the May 2004 Preserve Your Family History