Old images and photos are a powerful reminder of the past and provide a very important visual connection to our ancestors. However, if we don’t properly care for our photos over time the effects of dirt, dust, oil, and temperature will cause them to deteriorate and our history to fade away.
A few tips for preserving old photographs:
Handle your old photos with care and avoid touching the photo/printed side with your fingers or bending it, as this can damage the photo.
Avoid putting your old photos in “peel-and-stick” photo albums because these can cause damage over time. Mount your photos on acid-free paper album pages using acid-free or stable plastic mounting corners or place your photos on stable plastic photo album pages.
Alternatively place each item in an acid-free, lignin-free folder or archival plastic enclosure.
Store these folders, sleeves and/or albums inside an acid-free archival box, making sure that the photos are stored flat or upright with no creasing or bending.
When storing, choose a location that is free from light, dust, and pests and has a consistent moderate temperature and humidity. Constant high and low temperatures and humidity can cause older photos to become brittle and crack, and dampness can cause photos to stick together. The ideal temperature for storing older photos is between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius. An interior closet with shelves at least 30 centimetres off the floor is often a good place. Avoid storing old photos in attics, garages and basements, or other areas that are not temperature-controlled.
If you want to frame an old photo, purchase an acid-free mat and backboard to ensure the photo doesn’t come in direct contact with the glass and to keep the image from deteriorating. Select a spot in your home that is not directly exposed to sunlight, fluorescent light, or UV light.