Life is unpredictable. Whether you live in a region with tornadoes, floods or wildfires, natural disasters often come without warning or time to prepare. Even household disasters such as a broken pipe, fire, little hands, or animals can cause irreparable damage to your home videos or photo albums. Read more to learn about three quick steps you can take to prevent damage to your treasured photographs, newspapers or even vintage slides.
Organize Your Old Photos
Although this step sounds time intensive, it doesn’t have to be. Simply sort your photographs, negatives, slides, videos or audio recordings chronologically by year. Use separate folders or small boxes to arrange them according to the general time frame. This enables you to later catalog them and build a family photo album more easily. If you want to create individual albums at a later date, you can also sort the timeline into specific people or events.
A tip to keep in mind is to consider organizing often forgotten treasures like newspaper clippings, letters, marriage and birth certificates or baptismal records. These little snippets add background and future generations often love pouring over reminders of major events. You can also take pictures of family mementos like war medals, a favorite knickknack, furniture or a vintage quilt to remember in case of a natural disaster.
Digitally Scan and Restore Your Photos
After you have arranged your photographs, old newspapers or even letters by date, digitally scan the contents of the folders one at a time to keep them organized. If you have old photos that are already deteriorating, you can have them professionally restored to avoid loss due to age.
This is especially useful with negatives and pictures that are in fragile condition. You can also prevent family video and audio recordings from damage by having them restored into easily stored DVD, CD and MP3 formats.
Once you have all of your family treasures digitally scanned, use portable storage devices or DVD’s to store the album contents. Make or purchase multiple copies to store in different locations to prevent a total loss. You can also give each family member a copy of your digitally preserved photos as a precaution against natural disasters. Additionally, using copies of your photographs allows you to create scrapbooks without using the originals which could be further damaged and are usually one of a kind.
Preserve the Originals
With all of your priceless memories digitally preserved, the next step is to secure the originals from future damage. Remove photographs from any older albums and store them in acid-free albums with a Photographic Activity Test seal of approval. You can also store larger photographs in acid-free plastic sleeves. Use a durable storage container that is made from an approved plastic or metal. You will also want to keep your photographs in a temperature and humidity-controlled room with conditions similar to what is comfortable for you.
Remember to store your negatives and newspapers in separate containers from your photographs. Newspapers in particular have varying levels of ink quality that makes them unpredictable with deterioration. There are specialized alkaline-buffered tissues and storage boxes to keep the pages from interacting. You should also store negatives in a different container because they can decay and release a vinegar smell.