Preserving Your Records

To protect your precious family memories, including papers, books, photographs and prints, create a “safe” environment for them: moderate temperature and humidity, clean air and good circulation, with no natural or fluorescent lighting. 

  • Don’t store them in the basement or attic or near a furnace or washing machine. Think about what’s near (or above) your records – a bathroom?
  • Don’t store them near any heat-producing source: radiators, appliances or fireplace.
  • Light causes fading and other damage. Keep photos and art in the dark.
  • If you have a valuable photo or artwork (even your children’s drawings)keep it in museum-quality, fully acid-free mats and frames. The glass will protect the record from pollutants, dirt, and rough handling.
  • If you want your wedding (or any) photos to last for your grandchildren, have the photographer take some black and white photos. Videos, color slides and most color prints don’t last.
  • If you want to keep a newspaper clipping, photocopy it onto “acid-free paper”. The copy will last much longer than the original. Store letters, clippings and other documents flat in acid-free folders. Consider photocopying them too.
  • When storing photos, use “photo” or “archival” mounting corners (from photo suppliers, stamp dealers, or archival material catalogs), not glues or self-sealing plastic, which can stick to or react with your pictures.
  • To remove musty odors from old books, make sure they’re dry, and put them into a cool dry space for a couple of days – or outdoors on a dry breezy day. Then put them into an open container (like a wastebasket) inside a large closed container (like a clean, dry garbage pail) with an open box of baking soda. Don’t allow the soda to touch the books. Leave for a few days, checking to make sure no more mold is growing. Remove and store in a safe environment.
  • To remove staples, use a pair of tweezers or a thin knife to bend up the edges of the staple. Staple pullers tear the paper. To remove paper clips, slide a piece of thin, stiff plastic under the clip on both sides to protect the paper when you slide it off. 

  • Don’t write on the back with ink or use rubber stamps. Use a soft lead pencil.
  • Don’t use any tape
  • Don’t touch the front of the photo.
  • Don’t use rubber bands or paper clips.
  • Don’t store photos with newspaper clippings. The newspapers can damage the photos.
  • Don’t use water-based glues or pastes. Don’t use rubber cement either. Use only acid and sulfur-free adhesives. (Get this from an art supply store.)
  • Don’t use any kind of album that sticks your photos on a page and covers them with plastic. 

    If you have any questions about conserving documents, contact the Moore County Archives for information about places where you can buy archival materials or get advice about preservation.