Thursday, February 02, 2006

Document preservation

From: Happy
I need to know how to safely store my documents which are already in plastic sheet protectors. Specifically, do I need to purchase one to those so-called acid-free albums and binders, or is it safe to use a binder that I have (cardboard cover?) if I place a protective sheet, to serve as a buffer, between binder and document collection in the front and back of the binder? I will appreciate your advice.

Well, the best answer is to store everything in optimum conditions. But since we don't live in museums, resolve to protect original documents and photos in the best acid-free albums you can purchase. I wouldn't worry as much about photocopies of original documents.

Ol' Myrt here does not recommend using anything with newsprint, construction paper, or cardboard, as these are very low-quality high-acid products that will deteriorate in just a matter of a few years. I've noticed this with my old yellow legal tablets from the 1980s, which isn't that long ago. Ordinary photocopy paper is higher quality, and I use it to take notes when visiting libraries and archives.

Using a protective sheet as a buffer between your low quality binder and your acid free sheet protectors isn’t a good idea. Fumes can migrate, and the edges of documents and surrounding books will be damaged if you don't. Just use another binder.

Remember to scan the documents and photos as another preservation method. This also facilitates sharing with family members. YES, I know my readers will want ol' Myrt to remind you that we don't know how long our hard drives, CDs or flash drives will last. But just like the 8mm movies once needed to be transferred to video tape and now DVD, so shall we be sure to keep up with technology until we pass the genealogy torch to someone else in the family during our later years.

My best recommendation for finding out about archival materials to protect photos, original documents, uniforms, quilts, tea cups, buttons and other family heirlooms is:


Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy

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