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Ensign Hugh J. Adams (1889-1919):
Preservation of Photographs

Some basic guidelines on preserving old photographs & a listing of useful books & websites, &tc.

Some Basic Preservation Guidelines

Store photographs away from light, especially sunlight.

Store photographs away from heat.
Store photographs where cool but not damp.
Handle prints and negatives by edges, corners or with white cotton gloves.
Keep as dust-free as possible.
Do not write on the backs of photographs.
Use acid-free envelopes for storage--ideally one image per enclosure.
Do not store negatives with prints.
Use albums without harmful glues, harmful plastic sheeting;
do not use albums that are considered "magnetic."
Framed photographs should be behind ultraviolet-protected glass.
Matted photographs should be mounted with hinges--not dry mounted.
Matted photographs should be matted only with acid-free board.

Since you probably don't want to live in an archives, you want to observe these guidelines sensibly and practically and not go too overboard. The value of your photos may be primarily their value to you or as a record of the story of your family.

At the same time remember that with the advent of the digital age, old photographs have become an increasingly valuable commodity--especially those that document history, a region, an industry or the work of a particular photographer.

It is hoped that the modest selection of books, organizations and websites listed below may assist you in better understanding and protecting your photographs.


* Images of America: A Panorama of History in Photographs.

Washington, D.C. : Smithsonian Books, 1989.

Braun, Bev.

* New Ideas for Crafting Heritage Albums.
Cincinnati : Betterway Books, 2001.

Douglas, Althea.

* Help! I've Inherited an Attic Full of History.
Toronto : Ontario Genealogical Society, 1998-1999.

Frisch-Ripley, Karen.

* Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs.
Salt Lake City : Ancestry, 1991.

Gagel, Diane V.

* Windows on the Past: Identifying, Dating, & Preserving Photographs.
Bowie, MD : Heritage Books, 2000.

Jensen, Oliver, et al.

* American Album.
[New York] : American Heritage Pub. Co.,
book trade distribution by Simon and Schuster, [1968].

Ogden, Sherelyn, editor.

* Preservation of Library & Archival Materials: A Manual. 3rd ed.
Andover, MA : Northeast Document Conservation Center, 1999.
Online Edition

Reilly, James M.

* Care and Identification of 19th Century Photographic Prints.
Rochester, NY : Eastman Kodak Company, 1986.

Sagraves, Barbara.

* A Preservation Guide: Saving the Past and the Present for the Future.
Salt Lake City, UT : Ancestry, 1995.

Stephani, Julie.

* More Than Memories: The Complete Guide for Preserving Your Family History.
Iola, WI : Krause Publications, 1998.

Taylor, Maureen.

* Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs.
Cincinnati : Betterway Books, 2000.

Tuttle, Craig A.

* An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs.
Highland City, FL : Rainbow Books, Inc., 1995.

Weinstein, Robert A. and Larry Booth.

* Collection, Use, and Care of Historical Photographs.
Nashville : American Association for State and Local History, 1977.

Weprich, Thomas M.

* The Early Photographic History of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1839-1904.
[University Park, PA] : The Pennsylvania State University, 1991.

Wilhelm, Henry.

* The Permanence and Care of Color Photographs.
Grinnell, Iowa : Preservation Publishing Co., 1993.

Preservation Organizations & Resources

* Brodart. [Archival Supplies]

PO Box 3037
Williamsport, PA
(888) 820-4377

* Gaylord Bros. [Archival Supplies]

Box #4901
Syracuse, NY 13221
(800) 448-6160

* Light Impressions [Archival Supplies]

P.O. Box 22708
Rochester, NY 14692
(800) 828-6216

* Metal Edge, Inc. [Archival Supplies]

6340 Bandini Blvd.
Commerce, CA 90040
(800) 862-2228

* Northeast Document Conservation Center

100 Brickstone Square
Andover, MA 01810
(978) 470-1010


* Advice for Framing Art, Documents, Letters, Photographs and other Paper Items.

Minnesota Historical Society

* The Care and Preservation of Photographic Prints.

Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village

* Caring for Your Photographic Collections.

Library of Congress

* Caring for Your Photographs.

Stanford University

* Conservation Online Website (COOL).

Stanford University

* George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

Rochester, New York

* Image Permanence Institute.

Rochester Institute of Technology

Hanthorn, Ivan.

* Tips on Preserving Photographs.
University of Northern Iowa

Otto, Susan.

* Preserving Your Family Photographs.
Milwaukee Public Museum

* Photograph Conservation.

Northeast Document Conservation Center

* Salvage Procedures for Water Damaged Collections.

Minnesota Historical Society

Wilson, Bonnie.

* Ask an Expert: Preserving Your Photographs: Windows to the Past.
Minnesota Historical Society

Western Pennsylvania Photographic Collections

* Archives Service Center

University of Pittsburgh
400 North Lexington Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 244-7090

* Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 454-6364

* Pennsylvania Department

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 622-3154

* Photo Antiquities

531 E. Ohio St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(412) 231-7881

* Silver Eye Center for Photography

1015 E. Carson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(412) 431-1810
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* University Archives

Hunt Library
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
(412) 268-5021
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With assistance from Ms. Jacalyn Mignogna,
Preservation Project Manager, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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