Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Preserve Your Memories

Preserve your family's history for future generations with a little bit of care and safe handling.  I love history and am especially interested in genealogy.  You can learn so much from pictures, documents, and books.  These treasures help me to connect with my ancestors and understand who I am a little bit better.

It's not a lot of work to preserve pictures, documents, and books correctly, but there are some basic guidelines that you should follow.  Today, I'm going to share some of my favorite family treasures with you and provide you with a how-to preservation guide for your family treasures.  

Everyone loves photographs.  They tell such a story!  You can learn so much by looking at the person in the picture, but there are other hidden clues.  Often a certain style of clothing or something in the background will help identify when and where the picture was taken.  Try it identify the person by name and lightly write the information on the back of the picture in pencil.  The ink in a pen will damage the picture over time.

Interestingly, the pictures that are over 100 years old are often in better condition than the ones my parents took of me as a child several decades ago.  The chemicals in the photo processing in the 1970's is turning all of the pictures a reddish-orange tint!  To prevent further damage, you can make a digital copy of pictures.  

You can scan a picture to save a digital copy.  Store pictures in between sheets of acid free paper and place them in an acid free box.  Make sure the paper is acid free, not archival.  Keep pictures away from light and humidity.

My Great-Great-Grandmother Jane and my Uncle Clark in 1902
Books and documents require extra care.  Paper made from trees becomes brittle and dry over time.  Acid free paper sleeves protect your oldest and most fragile books from dust and excessive handling.  Store books in an upright position with similarly sized books on a shelf in a place that is away from the direct sunlight.  

We are fortunate to have a wonderful library of old books in my family.  Here are a few of my favorite treasures from the collection.  

Bibles tell the story of my family, of their faith, and of the history that I share with them.  For many people, the family Bible was the place to record the most important family events.  It's interesting to note that of all of the old books in the collection, the Bibles are the ones that show the most age; I'm assuming it was because they were used on a more regular basis than some other books.  

A family Bible from 1900.  This particular Bible includes maps, charts, and so many annotations.

A lovely leather bound Bible that was presented to my Great-Grandmother in 1915.
A King James Version of the Bible dedicated to King James himself!

My Great-Grandfather was always such a scholar on a quest for knowledge.  Every one of his books has his personal notes and references in it.  These notes are as much a joy to read as the book itself.  Here he writes that he read this book in July of 1914.  It's amazing to me!  

Big (Final) No-No's For Preservation
- Paper clips
- Tape (even if you think you're repairing!)
- Ink
- Glue
- Laminating documents or pictures

As an interesting note, I knew that there was a reason that I loved Crane stationery so much.  Did you know that Crane stationery is not made from trees?  The paper fibers are made from cotton.  The paper will not dry and become brittle over time like paper made from wood pulp.  

So make sure your most precious letters and notes last for many generations to come and use your Crane stationery! 



  1. I love Crane Stationary - and didn't know that! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. I absolutely love this post! My family is currently in the middle of doing some research...its tough for us since we're Eastern European Jews and some documents are really hard to come by between 1930-1950.

    Your family Bible and books are absolutely amazing, and I love that you have such a wonderful piece of history!

  3. these are great tips. My family is working on perserving some of the old pictures and letters in the last year or two.



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