Do you have a box of old family photos tucked away somewhere? Are they labeled? Do you know the people in the photos or where they fit on your family tree?
Those priceless old photos are windows into your family history and preserving them now will give your children, grandchildren and generations to come a chance to know their unique story. Below are a few tips to help you safeguard your old family photos so they can be enjoyed for years to come:
~ Photo Preservation Tips ~
- Label, Label, Label
It’s all too easy for vital information to be lost as memories fade and old family photos are passed from one generation to the next. Take the time to identify and write down the names, places, and dates that go with the images. Use an acid-free marker or #2 pencil when writing on the back of old photos, never a ball point pen.
- Choose Photo-Safe Storage
Your old family photos are your family’s legacy, so why are they relegated to a dusty box? Changes in temperature and humidity can damage these fragile heirlooms. Instead, store your old family photos in acid free photo-safe albums or archival boxes. Avoid storing in the basement or attic in favor of a more temperature controlled environment.
- Handle Old Photos with Care
Unseen chemicals, moisture and oils on your hands can speed deterioration. Always work with clean dry hands and, if possible, wear cotton gloves. When handling old family photos, hold by their edges and avoid touching the images themselves. Make sure any surface you work on is clean and dry.
- Avoid Natural Light
Old photos are light sensitive and can fade quickly if exposed to direct sunlight. Avoid viewing or displaying yours in such conditions. For best protection when displaying old family photos, use an acid free mat and archival glass when framing.
- Scan Your Old Photos
While nothing can replace the beautiful black and white images and delicate paper of your old family photos, having only one hard copy leaves your legacy vulnerable to floods, fires, and other disasters. Although time consuming, scan your old family photos onto a computer or disc to give you the extra safeguard of a digital image. When scanning, be sure the glass is clean and the photo is free of dust as any flaws will be magnified.
- Distribute Copies
Making sure everyone has a copy of the old family photos is important, especially as families grow and spread out. After labeling and scanning your pictures, burn them to DVDs and print out several hard copies of each. Make a set of the best photos for everyone and distribute at Thanksgiving or Christmas. That way, you know they will have access to those images and stories in years to come.
- Post to a Family Website
Another way everyone can enjoy old family photos is to post them to a Family Website. There you can include information about your history, traditions, recipes and updates along with old photos. A family website is also a great way to keep everyone up-to-date on family happenings!
With your photos safely preserved, don’t forget to discover the stories behind them!