Naughty photos included, we talked DIRT at the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree for a presentation on “Dirty Pictures: Save Your Family Photos from Ruin.”
We also talked about five of the most common problems with family history photographs in personal collections, and what to do about them:
1. “Magnetic” Albums
Those horrible photo albums everyone bought in the 1970’s and 1980’s because they were easy and made the photos look so good. The acidic paper, adhesive, and non-archival plastic were really just a way to speed up the deterioration of photographs, especially color prints. Now, we are trying to get our pictures out of those albums, and find that they are yellowing and stuck to the page. I show you tips for this rescue project using an awesome little tool called a Micro Spatula. You will want to add one to your Genealogist’s Gadget Bag.
2. Photos and Scraps
Whenever one item touches another in an album or scrapbook, there’s a pretty good chance that damage will occur if the materials are newsprint or organic artifacts. Ticket stubs, news clippings, and food wrappers are bad news for photographs. It’s best to isolate those items or remove them (with that handy microspatula). And I’ve also got some ideas for making those books into long-term family heirlooms.
3. Photographs Dying Inside “Bad” Frames
Back before we knew what poor framing could do to a photograph, we stuck our pictures in any old frame, with or without a mat. Now we have photos stuck to glass, faded images, and damage from cardboard and wood. Archival quality framing is expensive, but it’s not that hard to do yourself. I show you what you need to know.
4. Curled and Rolled Photos
My favorite! Prints that have become dry and brittle over the years and are just waiting for a little dehumidification to be studied in your genealogical research. Read my step-by-step Photo Tutorial: How to Relax and Rehumidify Old Rolled Photographs and Documents. The same method works on curled prints. Then learn how to create a digital image of that l-o-n-g panorama photograph that you can reprint, share, and archive.
5. Scratched and Dirty Negatives
Really dirty pictures and negatives? If you’re tempted to try cleaning with soap and water — don’t. I tried out the experts’ recommendations and share the results in Is It Worth the Trouble to Clean Dirty Old Negatives? If you want to do-it-yourself, you’ll need Delta Film Cleaner and PEC-PAD We talk about other, easier, options too for working with damaged family photos.
Do you have another challenge with your own “dirty pictures”? Let me know in the comments or send an email.
Family Curator says
Good luck, Nancy! Let me know how it works out.
Nancy Vest says
Wonderful post! I need help with most of these including a CCC Camp photo that is stuck to the glass. Can't wait to try your techniques. Thanks.