Answered By: JB
Last Updated: Apr 01, 2022     Views: 104

Tips for preserving historic documents, photos and other memorabilia:

  • Most paper and photo materials like a stable environment - attics, basements and garages tend to have extremes of heat, cold, and moisture that can damage papers and photographs. Direct sunlight will fade photographs and artwork.
  • If the only space you have is in a garage, outbuilding, basement or attic, take some simple steps: a few inches off the floor on cinder blocks or pallets may keep your items above water; a tarp over the top of boxes can keep out water and dust.
  • Check up! Don't ignore materials year after year and expect them to remain the same. Check them regularly to make sure insects, mold and water have not made inroads on your items. The sooner you can deal with damage, the better.
  • Avoid adhesives and fasteners. Many of the problems we see in donated collections are the result of rust or damage from staples and clips, and discoloration and residue from glues and tapes.

See the following for specific advice on taking care of papers, photographs and collectibles:

  • The Society of California Archivists - has brochures with information about oral history, neighborhood history, preservation, and photographs. These materials can be downloaded here: Society of California Archivists. We also have copies available in the Special Collections Reading Room.

  • The Conservation OnLine (CoOl) site at Stanford University has a variety of practical advice and supply links at:

We don't recommend specific businesses or individuals, but if you want to see about repairing books try an Internet search for "Book Repair" note that most repair services are in Los Angeles or further away, and may require you to mail the item.  In addition, book repairs are costly, and can wind up reducing the value of the item.  Often placing the book in a archival box and avoiding using it can be the best option.  See "book boxes" and "phase boxes" on the Internet for available products. 


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