Preserving Memories: Vinyl Records and Reunion Advice

By Grace Dobush Premium

Safe Keeping: Vintage Records

All the cool kids download their music these days, but you probably have plenty of old fashioned recordings in your possession. In 1877, Thomas Edison invented a phonograph that played delicate cylinders wrapped in foil; later cylinders were wax. More durable 33? rpm “long-playing” records, or LPs, came along in 1947, followed by the 45 rpm. Whether you’re guarding Great-grandma Rose’s cylinders, Uncle Tony’s jazz albums or the Elvis tunes of your youth, these tips will get you in the right preservation groove.

? Stay cool. Constant temperatures of about 60 to 65 degrees are best. Keep your collection out of the sun.

? Keep hands off. Never touch the playing surface of a record; handle it by the edges or the label. Pick up a foil cylinder from the inside. Let wax cylinders come to room temperature before touching them; cold cylinders can split just from the contact with your body heat.

? Protect. Replace vinyl discs’ original paper liners inside the cardboard covers with high density polyethylene sleeves, available from <> (click Audio). Keep 78 rpm records in acid free paper sleeves.

? Take cover. Replace – don’t repair – liners and jackets because contact with adhesives can damage records. If the original plastic wrapping remains on the album sleeve, remove it.

? Stand tall. Store albums on edge, never flat, and don’t let them lean-prop them up on both sides. Group discs of similar sizes together: Mixing 7-inch singles and LPs can create uneven pressure and cause warping. Store cylinders upright.

? Clean up. To clean a record, use a soft, lint-free cloth or a dry brush made specifically for records. Wipe in the direction of the grooves. If a vinyl record is soiled, clean it with a soft cloth and distilled water, not alcohol.

Listen Up

The music your ancestors might have enjoyed on their “talking machines” is now playing on one these Web sites:

? Dismuke’s Virtual Talking Machine <>

? Library of Congress Recorded Sound Reference Center <>

? Old Time Victrola Music <>

? <>

Get-together Guidance

Rounding up the relatives this summer? Add fun and family history to your next reunion with strategies.

? Display a history guestbook for attendees to write family memories, legends or predictions, and encourage everyone to have a look.

? Enaging teenagers can be tough. Put a few tech-savvy grandkids in charge of entertainment. Have them track down traditional songs or modern pop music from your ancestral homeland and make CDs to play or give as favors.

? Historic US flags or the flags of your ancestral countries make great extras in gift bags and add pizazz to centerpieces. <> sells small flags from most nations and American eras.

? Re-create a favorite family photo by positioning the now-gray-haired siblings the game way they posed as youngsters. Or immortalize your grandkids imitating a picture of their forebears (bonus points if anyone can match Great-uncle Phil’s trademark grin).

? Jazz up your name tags. If guests are coming from far and wide, add an outline of each person’s home state. Got real blackmail material? Place a childhood photo next to name.

? T-shirts with faces that match family members make fun reunion favors. Contact cards and address labels help you stay in touch. The ones shown here are available through Family Labels. (800) 935-3864, <>

From the July 2007 issue of Family Tree Magazine