Preserving Memories: Memory Albums

By Diane Haddad Premium

Safe Keeping: Memory Albums

So you’ve decided it’s time to organize and preserve your family photographs in an album. May be you’ll even get ambitious by adding a copy of Grandma’s birth certificate, your son’s graduation program and an embellishment or two. Great! You know to choose an acid-free, lignin-free album and to avoid magnetic ones at all costs-but then you get to the craft store and the selection is, well, intimidatingly huge and varied.

Let us help: Our breakdown of the basic album types, along with their pros and cons and tips for using each, will help you pick out exactly what you need. 


Keeping scrapbooks was as popular a pastime in our ancestors’ day as it is today. Men, women and children pasted newspaper articles, advertisements, letters, recipes and other ephemera into albums — Mark Twain reserved entire Sundays to work on his. Through essays on the scrap books of an African-American musician, a physician, a Depression-era teen and South Carolina plantation ladies, The Scrapbook in American Life (Temple University Press) explains how and why our ancestors pursued this enduring hobby. Though the read can be a bit academic and the images are black and white, you’ll enjoy this look into an old-fashioned hobby — doubly so if you’re lucky enough to have your ancestor’s scrapbook.

Pixel Pointer

Don’t save your “master” copies of digitized photos as JPGs: Every time you open a JPG in your photo editing software, then alter it and resave it as a JPG the pixels are compressed and the image is slightly damaged. After several saves, your image will begin to look pixelated and blurry. Instead, save the image as a TIFF-the file size will be bigger, but the image will retain its clarity.

Chipping Away

Decorate these big chipboard letters from Hero Arts, then use them for initials on heriage-themed scrapbook pages and cards. They come in packages of three for $3.50; each letter pops out of its frame, leaving you with two embellishments. (800) 822-4375, <>

From the May 2007 issue of Family Tree Magazine.