On December 5, 2006, Kate Malcolm & Karen Jones attended a workshop sponsored by the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs and, as speaker, Mimi Bowling, Consulting Archivist. Following is a


of the information



Preserving, Family Archives and His.torical Ma.terials
" All things fall apart. Everything cbntains intrinsic elements within itself to cause its own destruction.

Principle of Reversibility in preserVingmaterials: Don't do anything that can't be undone in the future.

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Heat & Humidi!y'and the Fluctuations in both

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Ideal = 68°F & 50% or less Relative Humidity. Humidity increases chemical reactions & mold
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AVOID storage in attics, basements, garages, barns, sheds, unheated porches, and other areas where heat and humidity canpot be controlled. . Avoid fluctuations in heat & humidity; they cause expansion and contraction of materials. Since different elements withlp.theite.rp,respond differently,to heat & humidity, the item ultimately breaks down. (ink on paper, 2 elements) Monitoring devices for heat & humidity are available. Some inexpensive ones are available at places like Radio Shack. Seme have alarms.


Lie:ht- ALL light causes damage & fadiyg. Store items in the dark, away from all light. Pollutants - Both Gases (exhaust, out gassing from other items) and Particulates (dust, kitchen grease, soot, dirt, etc) can cause damage. Protect items from pollutants.


items.:- h~~kite~ Qfte,~~Agurcb~ej:r~~j!a .er~blem~,§es; ~





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Use archival materials from reliable sources (e.g., Gaylord, Light Impressions, Metal Edge, etc.). DO use archival materials that are ,chemicallystable, buffered8.5pH. Photos do best in pH neutral storage boxes & folders or polyester sleeves.

AVOID e fasteners: paper clips & other fasteners (rust & distortion), rubber bands (go gummy or dry out & stick to item), staples (holes & rips), ang holders requiring punched holes (rips), . adhesives (glue, pas~, rubb~r cement -deteriorate and discolor), tape (~ails,gets.sticky), . acidic storage containers (like regular cardboard boxes), and eunstable plastic (especially vinyl and PVC).
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Sealed plastic containers can release gases as well as cause a greenhou~~environmeBttrapping the gases and humidity inside with your item, Monitor the container for signs of mold and, if it occurs, add a desiccant to absorb excess humidity. Don't mend, clean using fluids (a soft brush or special eraser is OK), dona fumigate for mold or pests (may have adverse affects on paper). Also avoid Document Repair ['ape asitcan damage item and cannot easily be reversed. HANDLING:
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Less is better. Keep hands cle~ (remove lotion). Gloves: Use archivist white cotton gloves when handling photos as the oils in skin can damage the chemicals in the photos. It's not always necessary to use gloves when handling paper, especially if it is brittle, as the gloves are clumsy and cause more damage.
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DISASTER PREPAREDNESS Know the risks (esp. water) to your storage ar~as and choose loeations accordingly. Back Up: copy ~verything onto paper and stOFeaway from originals for safety. Keep negatives for pictures separate from the prints. Computer backup online storage is not forever as both companies and technology change. ,1'


Remember to preserve the informatioFlabout the photos, documents, home movies/videos, audiotapes, etc. as well as the items themselves. Who - fIrst & last names When-month, day, & year Where - e.g., actual address not just "my house" What - reason for picture, event, etc. PAPER DOCUMENTS Letters, Legal & Vital records, Certificates, Diplomas, Newspapers, Newspaper clippings, & Artwork. Paper often has short fibers & a high acid content. ... 11<"'" ,. ...... ~II' ~ "" ='~ ~,~.., .~~ Iit",-"" ~ '" ~





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Repeatedly fold & unfold Laminate (enclosed plastic traps heat which deteriorates paper and breaks down binders) Display indefinitely - Length it can be displayed depends a lot on material. Use adhesive labels on folders - they"falloff and the ID is lost. Instead, write in pencil directly on the folder.


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Store flat in buffered or pH neutral folders or boxes. Especially for large itemS,:flatis better than rolled, rolled is better thillJ. oMed. f

Make copies& storeremotely
Limit handling Keep away from light


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Newsprint - designed not to last. Made ofpm.verized wooa pulp. Prpgn@sisis not g00E11.J@Fllongitife. Store
in the dark & don't handle often. If you photocopy or scan,c1iPl"ings, th~ywilloutlast tke @riginal.

Approved Storage Materials:

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Archival folders - do not.use colored foMers as the color \\(;j,llJ~m1wb.en wet. Archival boxes - flat is best. MylarlMelinex - ine~ clear polyester or polyethylene available as sheets or ellvelo~es. Polypropylene sleeves, inert at1gcan be used to keep a tom Pflg~together (do not laminate or tape) NOT glycene envelopes -they'will deteriorate in time and became brittle. Paper envelopes -archival qual~ty,are inexf'ensive but are noNransparent. Food-quality storage bags are considered OK for storage, but do not seal for p>apertems. i

Fully-sealed ~ncapsulation.isno longer recommended and encapsulations made wit1J..<dtml:51~~sidedjtapeBave

be€B.f0lm.6!~to"stid<1't0~item-al1Eltdamage thedocument!.~ ~9ges.
Humidity is damaging.

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Parchment - can last JI()OOs years. Made of skin (magnifying glass shows hair f~1l4clesaFld of pores). PHOTOS AND AV MA TERlALS

Prints, Loose - storein pH neutralenvelopesinsidepH neutralboxes.whichallowfor identificati0Il n the o
envelopes themselves or on sepaFatecards. However, they require more handling & time for searching. Tintypes are very sturdy - can copy or ,photocopy the print. Albums are easy to view but take up more space. Watch humidity so that photos,.00:n'tadhel'etothe,p1astic or get moldy. Avoid black paper albums. Avoid paper comer tabs. Avoid self-stick (mae:netic) albums as the sticky glue can damage pictures as wen as make them impossible to remove. If you are faced with this, you can scan or take a photo of the photo (regular and digital camera can be used with a photo stand) to make new prints of important photos.
N\.e.e:aii¥~s.sl1!:)'li<! b~;-;tored~eparat~y from prints. Can .!lsesleevys ~f poly 2F.paper; remember to identify

who, what, where, & when. Slides - store in:





Sheets of poly holder sleeves Special boxes -archival Do Not store slides in carousels qr.original boxes The original cardboard mounts are not archival or acid free. Handline: - wear gloves. This is most important for handlVtgphotos and film. Photo storage on-line (such as Yahoo, Flicker, Snapfish) - consider it useful for the short term - not forever,
as companies change. Use for easy access and sharin~, not preservation.

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AY Materials: lheludes home movies (store flat), Videos (Magnetic mediums - 5;.yearlife- store vertical), and Sound (audio cassettes have very thin tape and break easily as they age). Every media will deteriorate over time. The media, hardware, and software ne.ed"tobe continually updated to currenttecbnology. However, to be on the safe side, keep original media untiUt falls apart. SCRAPBOOKS (Since scrapbooks contain many types of media, they are difficult to preserve. Question rust whether making a scrapbook is necessary.)

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Old - store wrapped in acid free paper and place in archival boxes (drop spine or phase boxes). New Use archival materials, JM;ylarcomers,make copies (if,possible), and don't overlap objects on the page.










Make book jackets out of Mylar or acid-free paper.

Don't applyleathertr~atments.
Don't try to reaffix book spines w/adhesive or tapes. ARTIFACTS - SMALL

Small artifacts can be stored in speci~ ~chivalboxes with clear lids & little dividers .ortrays inside. TEXTILES If you need to roll them, roll rust around a smalleFarchival tube and then insert into a larger tube. Texmes that are folded should be unfolded and refolded in a different place so fibers don't break along fold lines~' DIGITAL BeRN ITEMS Email is transient, not permanent. Save your digital records & migrate forward into new technology, such as CD or DVD or whatever is next. FURT$R,INFORMATION
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Information: Contact the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, Washington, DC or info@aic-faic.org or http://aic.stanford.edu.


Or you may call the Madison Historical Society office, 973.377.0722 x8, and we will try to help you answer your questions. We hope this has been helpful to you. Kate & Karen

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