They give us those nice bright colors/They give us the greens of summers
February 3, 2018 6:12 AM   Subscribe

A family member moved and can no longer store what feels like a metric ton of old photos and miscellaneous memorabilia. I volunteered to house the boxes vs. let them be trashed. But now what?

Eventually I plan to go through all the stuff, but I just can't right now. Let's say I need to store it all for at least a year. And it may end up being longer, who knows?

What can I use to store it all? Clearly, shoeboxes crammed into a re-used Amazon box is not optimal. But I do not want to shell out $$$ for acid-free artisanal archive receptacles or anything super fancy.

I am willing to buy something that I can re-use in the future for more general storage. Are there specific old-photo considerations that I am not aware of?
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Museum person here, but not a paper conservator. There is a marker pen you can buy that tests regular cardboard or paperboard pH o reveal whether it is acid-free. A lot of commercial cardboard already is. So if you do have Amazon boxes or shoeboxes, you can just buy this pen and use it to test for acid risk.

As long as the photos are dry and flat, honestly, not moving them a second time before you can really go through them and store them properly is not the worst idea. One principle to keep in mind is to keep moves and handling to a minimum.

There are 2 important things to check for: be sure that whatever they're in, they are kept flat. Curling and crinkling are dangers. And second, if there is old plastic film and/or adhesives that can safely and easily come off or out now, that will help keep additional future damage from occurring. But don't get into any deep work of peeling that stuff off with razors or anything until you can devote time to it.

The National Archives has a good page of guidance for the storage of photos and documents.
This page is also pretty good.
posted by Miko at 6:29 AM on February 3, 2018 [13 favorites]

University Products seem not too expensive ($22 at a popular chain store), and seem to know what they're doing (unlike some of the other name-brand tote manufacturers that I checked).
posted by at at 6:55 AM on February 3, 2018

Get some dessicant. I save the little packets that come in shoes and we used to get them at work with printers, so have many. You want them to stay dry. I am not aware of any issues silicone dessicant would cause with photos, but IANAE (Am Not An Expert).
posted by theora55 at 10:29 AM on February 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

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