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Society of
American Archivists

17 North State Street
Suite 1425
Chicago, IL 60602-3315
tel 312/606-0722
fax 312/606-0728
toll-free 866/722-7858

 

Seven Tips to Preserve Your Piece of History

 

Preserve your memorabilia from the 2008 presidential campaign, election and inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. The Society of American Archivists offers seven tips to ensure proper care and management of your historic keepsakes:

  1. The best protection for your photographs, newspapers, campaign buttons, event tickets, and bumper stickers is a cool, dry, stable environment (for example, moderate temperature and humidity with relatively little fluctuation, clean air and good air circulation, no natural or fluorescent light, and good housekeeping).


  2. Valuable paper collections do not belong in your attic or basement, which commonly are subject to excessive heat and/or moisture. Avoid storing materials beneath or close to such water sources as washing machines, bathrooms, or air-conditioning equipment. And be sure to consider what is in the room above your collection.


  3. Heat causes damage. When displaying your framed photos, newspapers, invitations, and other memorabilia, don’t hang these valuable items over radiators, heating ducts, heat-producing appliances, or fireplaces. Anything with long-term value should be housed away from heat sources.


  4. Light causes fading and other damage. Keep photos and other memrabilia “in the dark” as much as possible; don’t put them in direct sun or bright light. Hallways or other rooms without windows are best. Install shades and/or heavy curtains where you can’t avoid windows. If you must display an item in direct sun or bright light, consider obtaining a high-quality scan and displaying the digital print instead.


  5. Indoor pollution rapidly damages paper and is a growing problem in energy-conscious spaces with good insulation. Any valuable photo or paper-based document on display should be protected by a preservation-quality mat and frame. The glass or plastic covering, which protects the item from pollutants and dirt, should contain UV filtering.


  6. Photos, letters, clippings, and other family documents should be stored unfolded because folding and unfolding breaks paper along the fold lines. Storing photos and documents in folders rather than envelopes is recommended because envelopes can cause damage as items are removed and replaced.


  7. When considering whether to use paper or plastic enclosures for your photos, select enclosures that pass the Photographic Activity Test (PAT). This test ensures that the enclosure will not react chemically with your photos. Supplier catalogs should indicate whether a photographic storage product has passed the PAT. To read more about the PAT, see the Image Permanence Institute’s “Archival Advisor” web page at www.archivaladvisor.org/.

 

 

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