1. Parenting
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Your Family Photographs
By David L. Mishkin, Just Black & White
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Identification
• Part 2: Preservation
• Part 4: Restoration
 Join the Discussion
"Have a question about your old photographs?"
Ask the Expert!
  Related Resources
• Dating Old Photos
• Heritage Albums
Preservation Tips
 From Other Guides
• Storing Old Photos
• Scrapbooking
• History:Photography
• Notable Photographers

The following are a list of storage materials that are safe to use for archival storage. However, it is important to note that at times manufacturers may change their formulation without notification and this may change the product's archival properties. 

Slide mount holders, lower left.  Photo corner mounts for albums, center and lower right.

PAPER ENVELOPES are made from the highest quality paper and are proven to be the most satisfactory system for enclosing photographic materials. These should be acid-free, high alpha-cellulose papers that are buffered against changes in pH. Two very critical aspects of paper envelopes are the position of the glued seam and the adhesive used to seal it. Avoid envelopes with the seam down the center and avoid seals using animal or vegetable glues. KODAK STORAGE ENVELOPES are heat-sealable, made of aluminum foil that has been coated with polyethylene on the inside and laminated to a paper on the outside. CELLULOSE ACETATE SLEEVES are transparent enclosures that provide a way to view and handle photographs without removing them from the enclosures. FOLDERS are single fold seamless holders, very much like manila file folders, but they are made from archival materials. They are also available in triacetate, polyester or polypropylene. INTERLEAVES can be made from either paper or plastic sheets that are used to separate individual photographs from coming into direct contact with each other. ALBUMS are not usually suitable for long term storage unless they are fabricated with materials that make them safe for this purpose. Albums tend to be the most popular storage medium. Archival storage albums, although more expensive than conventional albums, are available at most archival suppliers and dealers.

Plastics are one of the safest materials to use in direct contact with photographs. However, some plastics contain additives to strengthen plastics or make them more pliable, etc. Only the following plastics have been considered safe to use in association with photographs: Polyester, Mylar, Polypropylene, Polyethylene, Tyvek and Cellulose Triacetate.

A number of materials often used in the storage of negatives and prints are detrimental to the photographic image and its support. Among the materials known to be detrimental to photographs are wood and wood products such as plywood, hardboard, chipboard, low-grade paper, glassines and strawboard. There are also some concerns with the use of chlorinated, nitrated formaldehyde-based plastics, lacquers, enamels and materials that contain plasticizers. Other items that may be detrimental to processed photographic materials while they are in storage including rubber, rubber cement, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and hygroscopic adhesives or those containing iron, copper, sulfur or other impurities. Pressure sensitive tapes and mounting materials, as well as acid inks and porous tip marking pens that use water-base dyes should also be avoided. Adhesives that should be avoided are starch paste, animal glue, rubber cement, shellac and contact cement.

Next page > How to Restore Old Photographs > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


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