Resources for Archiving physical photographs
July 23, 2016 7:33 AM   Subscribe

I have two huge Rubbermaid bins full of family photos dating back to the 1920s and I'd like to organize them and preserve them for the future. I already know how to deal with them digitally, but I need to know the best way to store them in an archival fashion.

I'm assuming that the solution is big loose-leaf books of plastic sleeves but I'm not sure what to look for or where. I'd like to be able to annotate the photos without writing on them so some easy way to make notes on the sleeves would be good too.
posted by octothorpe to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The quality of plastic you would need for photo preservation is pretty expensive. I wouldn't recommend that, unless you have cash to burn. I would say acid-free boxes for storage are going to be far more cost-effective. Something like what you see here: link. They also sell markers that are supposed to be safe for writing on the back of photos, but I haven't used those a lot, so I can't really speak to how safe they really are.
posted by backwards compatible at 8:34 AM on July 23, 2016

I'm storing everything from thousands of old photos and negatives to super 8 films to even valuable vintage clothing in archival boxes, envelopes, etc. from Gaylord. If it's old and you want to store it safely, they have the product. Caveat: Pricey.
posted by bassomatic at 11:45 AM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yup, archival grade polyester/melinex sleeves are pricey per unit. A better and more cost effective strategy is to think about the climate conditions as well as conservation materials. Most folks keep their photos in the attic or the basement, where they are most vulnerable to heat, humidity and contaminants. Acid free boxes (clamshell boxes help ease of access), not too many per box, store horizontally in a clean, dry, cool part of the house. When handling, hold by the edge to avoid fingerprints, only use soft pencils to mark the back (if that).
posted by dumdidumdum at 4:15 PM on July 23, 2016

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