Preserving Memories

Preserving Memories

Creative ways to save and share your family history.

Safe Keeping: Old Documents
Old papers and documents are probably the most common of any heirlooms, and also the most delicate. From Great-grandma Sophie’s marriage license to Dad’s grade-school report card, the sentimental value of these papers often is just as precious as the information they contain.
Some preservation basics always apply: Wash your hands before touching old documents, and never eat or drink around them. Protect the documents from light, moisture and heat. And heed these paper-specific no-nos:

 
Never fold historic documents.
 
Don’t use staples, glue, tape or paper-clips on them.
 
Never, ever laminate them.
 
Copy your documents onto archival paper—make both a preservation copy and a handling copy. That way, you always have a backup. When sharing historical documents with your family, use the copies, not the originals. Keeping a set of copies with a relative or friend will mitigate the risk of losing everything to a fire or flood.
Store the originals individually in protective archival folders or envelopes. Keep the folders (Mylar or acid- and lignin-free paper sleeves are best) in a manuscript box or flat box. If you store the documents upright, use spacers ensure the folders aren’t bending or leaning. Keep the preservation copies in acid-free folders and boxes, too. With proper care, you can preserve the documents—and your ancestors’ stories—for generations to come. 
 
Suppliers
Archival Methods, (866) 877-7050
Hollinger Metal Edge (800) 634-0491
Light Impressions (800) 828-6216

University Products (800) 628-1912
 
 
Book It

Scrapbooks: An American History by Jessica Helfand (Yale University Press, $45) is a scholarly take on the pastime that busied our ancestors for decades. The hardcover book includes images of pages from everyday people as well as famous folks, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. Helfand’s impressive scrapbook collection shines a light on the wishbooks of young girls and the war memories of soldiers, and will help you see historical scrapbooks in a new light. 
 
 
Top Trees
Bella Blvd’s funky Family Tree line of papers and stickers <www.bellablvd.net/products.aspx> will punch up your scrapbook pages (and we can’t help but love the name). The paper sheets sell for 70 cents each, and the coordinating cardstock stickers are $3.59. Find a retailer near you.
 
 
Instant Camera
Already mourning the death of Polaroid instant film? Cheer up: You can make your own vintage-looking shots with a free software program called Poladroid.

 
After installation, all you have to do is drag and drop a photo onto the camera icon, and a mini-Polaroid will pop out. The picture shows up as muddy brown for a minute or two before it “develops”—just like old times. The final images, complete with white border, are saved in your My Pictures folder as JPG files.
 
You can browse through other people’s Poladroid creations on the photo-sharing Web site Flickr.

 

 

 

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