Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Preserving Family Records

Cool, Dry, and Acid Free 

To begin, who knew there's acid free paper, acid free blotter sheets, acid free file folders, and acid free tissue?  There's even acid free boxes.  So the question is where are your valuable family memorabilia?  Is it in an acid free storage, or are you acid friendly?

We've heard it before, we know it's true, and Joyce Burner of the National Archives, Kansas City, reminded a full room of participants on 29 April that the keywords to preserving family records are Cool, Dry, and Acid Free.

J. Burner shared the distinct ways to preserve books and loose papers, newspapers, photographs, rolled records, and digitized materials. I don't want to break my mother's heart in telling her that "scrapbooking is a hobby, not preservation," but I will be delicately recreating (thus, preserving) Mother's artful work in an acid-free solution. 

Of all the tips given, I took heed to disaster recovery the most.  There's mold damage, water damage, damage from folding documents, and brittle paper.  Well, for at least a few of these disasters, there seems to be salvageable solutions.

For more information, there's a few good sources to have in your personal library (so I've been told):

Keeping Your Past, $8.00, 220 page guide from Kansas City Area Archivists
Kansas City Area Archivists
Western Historical Manuscript Collection - Kansas City
302 Newcomb hall, UMKC
5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, Mo.  64110-2499

Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC)
Resources for Private and Family Collections
"NEDCC Offers Hints for Preserving Family Collections"

5 Tips for Preserving Your Digital Photos
From the Kansas City Public Library

Preserving Historic Newspapers
The University of Kansas Libraries                    

Preservation of Scrapbooks and Albums
Library of Congress

Remember cool, dry, and acid free, for the next generation.

Kathleen Brandt
(photos from Library of Congress)


  1. Thank you for the links to the resources. I am always trying to learn more about preservation.

  2. From: Paul Redden
    Since the Clinton Admin. All paper has to be acid free but boxes don't. There are pens available that will test for acid in paper and cardboard. Most craft type cardboard has acid in it but I found that some boxes are covered with a white paper to give them color and this paper that usually doesn't have acid in it. Never store your precious documents touching anything with acid in it. Brodart sells the testing pens along with specifically marketed acid free boxes. Its much less expensive though to line a regular box with acid free paper to protect the contents inside.

    Never store old newspaper clippings or other documents which were full of acid inside a book without wrapping it in acid free paper first.

  3. Kathleen, I really enjoyed reading your comment at Luxegen Genealogy and Family History on your career approach. It is so 'you' - thanks for sharing in that venue. It has been a really great discussion. ;-)