Labeling Your Old Photos

Labeling Your Old Photos

You've got questions about discovering, preserving and celebrating your family history; our experts have the answers.

Q. I recently spent a lot of time cross referencing my family photos with their negatives. I wrote reference numbers on Avery labels and affixed a label to the bottom right corner of each photo in a package and the package of negatives. How do you feel about marking photo details/descriptions in this manner?

A. Labeling sets of photographs and negatives can be a nightmare if it isn’t done right. The most important part of any organization system is to be consistent. Each set of negatives should have a unique number that appears both on the negatives and on the photographs. This can be accomplished with labels as long as they consist of acid and lignin free paper and photo safe adhesive. Another option is to purchase a special photo marking pen from a supplier such as University Products ( or Light Impressions ( You can write the number along the edge of the negative and on the back of the photograph in one of the corners.

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