5 Things You Should Never Do to Family Photos

Never Use Polyvinyl Album Pages or Black Paper Albums
Those classic black pages are not your best bet.
Those classic black pages are not your best bet.

They may be cheap and easy, but polyvinyl album pages and black paper albums should be avoided. Polyvinyl album pages have a magnetic-like-quality clear film that seals your photos onto a stiff backing similar to thick poster board. Black paper album pages contain dyes that can harm photographs. Back in the day, photographers glued photos to black paper, not knowing any better. Since then, we've learned more about the chemicals in this type of paper and, as a result, better alternatives now exist.

You can find acid-free albums at retail photography or camera stores, craft stores, and department and drug stores. Look for labels or markings that specify that the products are "acid-free." If you want to invest in archival-quality albums, you can find them at archive or art supply stores.

For more information on preserving family photos and related topics, see the links in the next section.

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  • AIC. "Caring for Your Treasures." American Institute for Conservation of Historical and Artistic Works. (Dec. 8, 2010).http://www.conservation-us.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=633&parentID=497
  • Carter, Laura W., "Taking Care of Your Family Paper, Image and Book Treasures." Athens-Clarke County Library. 2004. (Dec. 8, 2010).http://www.clarke.public.lib.ga.us/hqdepts/heritage/takingcare.pdf
  • Eastman Kodak Company. "How to Get the Best from your KODAK Inkjet Prints." Technical Information Bulletin 4361. June 20, 2002. (Dec. 8, 2010).http://www.kodak.com/global/plugins/acrobat/en/service/tib/pdf/tib4361.pdf
  • Fahey, Mary. The Care and Preservation of Archival Materials." 2000. (Dec 8, 2010).http://www.thehenryford.org/research/caring/materials.aspx
  • Smith, Karen. "History Online: How to Care for Old Photos in Your Collection." Chadds Ford Historical Society. (Dec. 8, 2010).http://www.chaddsfordhistory.org/history/care.htm
  • State of Utah. "Preserve Photos, Documents and Heirlooms." 2010. (Dec. 8, 2010).http://history.utah.gov/experience_history/preserve_history/documents_photos.html


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