The Archive Lady on Spring Break 2017

Melissa Barker, better known as The Archive Lady, has run off on a much-needed vacation and her bi-weekly column here at GeneaBloggers is on hiatus. The Archive Lady series will return on Thursday, April 6th.

Melissa Barker, better known as The Archive Lady, has run off on a much-needed vacation and her bi-weekly column here at GeneaBloggers is on hiatus. The Archive Lady series will return on Thursday, April 6th.

In the meantime, click here to read past columns from The Archive Lady. And should we guess at what archivists do for Spring Break?

©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.

The Archive Lady: Preserving Old Black Paper Photo Albums

The Archive Lady: Preserving Old Black Paper Photo Albums

Steven from Florida asks: “I just received an old family album that needs preservation. It is an old album with a string binding and old black pages of which some photos are glued on and a lot of loose photos with some just barely attached to the pages. My question is: Do I keep the old album and work with it (which seems like that would be hard to do) or just get a new archival album and some sleeves and work that way? Also, Do I try to take off the glued pictures or just put the whole page in a sleeve?

Steven has a great question about those old black paper photo albums that many of us have in our genealogy records collections. These albums were extremely popular back in the late 1800’s and throughout the 1900’s. The photographs were either pasted onto the pages or they were attached with photo corners that are pasted into the album.

Price Family Black Paper Photo Album, Houston County, TN. Archives

Price Family Black Paper Photo Album, Houston County, TN. Archives

We have several of these types of black paper photo albums in the Houston County, TN. Archives. It is very important that these types of photo albums be handled with care and preserved properly. Any home archivist can preserve their own black paper photo albums. First and foremost, the black paper in these albums is not archival. They are not acid free and are full of chemicals. The paste that was used to glue the photographs is also not archival and can be damaging to photographs over time.

The first thought would be to remove the photographs from these albums. I would caution everyone about removing the photos from these types of black paper albums. If the paste has worn away or deteriorated enough that the photos come off the pages easy, then removing the photographs would be okay. Otherwise, do not pry the photographs from the pages because damage could be done to the photographs. Dismantling a photograph album like this should be a last resort to preserving the album. Keeping an original photograph album intact, as much as possible, is always the first choice.

Price Family Photo Album, Houston County, TN. Archives

Price Family Photo Album, Houston County, TN. Archives

Before starting, please put on gloves. When working with photographs, archivists always use gloves to keep the oils and dirt from their hands from getting on the photographs and causing damage. You can use white cotton gloves or regular latex gloves. Do not handle any photographs without wearing gloves to protect the photographs from any potential damage.

I would suggest that the first step is to digitize the pages in the photo album. Use a flat bed scanner, digital camera or some other device that allows you to lay the pages flat. Do not use any device that requires the pages be fed through the device. These types of self feeding scanners can damage the photographs if they get stuck in the device. Digitizing and documenting each and every photograph from the album is a great archiving tool. If something were to happen to the album, you would still have the digital images. Be sure to digitize the photographs in the order they appear in the album. Sometimes the photographs were placed in the album chronologically or in some sort of specific grouping. This pattern may not be evident as this project begins but might become clear as the digitized scans are studied.

Use archival tissue paper and interweave the tissue paper between each and every page of the album. This will create a barrier between the photographs and the adjacent black paper pages. This will insure that if photographs come off and the glue still remains, the glue will not be touching the other photographs on the adjacent page. Place the entire photograph album in an archival box lined with archival tissue paper. You will want to purchase a box that fits the album as perfectly as possible. If the album is moving around in the box, crumple up tissue paper and put around the album so it doesn’t move. Do not cram the photo album in too small of a box. You want the album to fit snuggly so it doesn’t move around in the box. Store the box with the album in a cool, dark and dry place. Never store documents, photographs or artifacts in an attic, basement or someplace where it is humid. Always keep out of the sunlight.

Interweave archival tissue paper

Interweave archival tissue paper

If there are loose photographs that have fallen out of the album, they need to be kept with the album. Put the loose photographs in archival sleeves. If it can be determined where the loose photos go in the album, insert them where they belong. If it cannot be determined where the loose photographs belong, place them at the beginning or the end of the album. Another option would be to place the preserved loose photographs on top of the album in the archival box separated with a piece of tissue paper.

If you are fortunate enough to have these wonderful old black paper photo albums with your ancestors’ photographs in them, you have a treasure! Preserve and archive that album so that future generations can enjoy those photographs!

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You Can Now Follow The Archive Lady on Facebook

You Can Now Follow The Archive Lady on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/TheArchiveLady/

Preserving Old Family Letters

Preserving Old Family Letters: Tips from an Archivist
Legacy Quick Guide


Kindle version: http://amzn.to/2ibnFP9
PDF version: http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1283

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If you have a question about researching in archives or records preservation for The Archive Lady, send an email with your question to: melissabarker20@hotmail.com

Melissa Barker - The Archive LadyMelissa Barker lives in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee. She is the Houston County (TN) Archivist and a Professional Genealogist. She writes the blog, A Genealogist in the Archives, and has been researching her own family for over 26 years. She lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation. 

©2017, copyright Melissa Barker. All rights Reserved.

The Archive Lady: Flattening Rolled Documents

The Archive Lady: Flattening Rolled Documents

Launa from California asks: Currently our family has two documents for our great-grandmother who was postmaster in a small town in Ohio in 1925. They came to me by way of father-in-law’s wife some 25 years ago. They were rolled up in a tub, I have taken digital images of them both, but should I leave them rolled in the tub or have them flattened? What is the best way to store them without the funds for special archiving?

Launa asks a question that a lot of genealogists want to know about when it comes to their rolled documents. Should they be flattened or should they be kept rolled up? It is my professional opinion as an archivist that all rolled documents should be flattened. The act of rolling and unrolling documents can be very damaging to the documents. The creases and bends made in the documents, over time, can cause tears and rips which severely damages the documents.

Rolled Maps, Houston County, TN. Archives

Rolled Maps, Houston County, TN. Archives

Flattening a rolled document can be a fairly simple process. With these step-by-step instructions, flattening documents can be done by the home archivist. Many genealogists have a hard time purchasing archival materials due to the price. It is true that archival materials are two to three times more expensive than non-archival materials. Not everyone can afford to purchase archival materials all the time and it is quite understandable.

With this process to flattened the postmaster documents that Launa has is quite simple and very inexpensive. The materials needed for this process are items from around the house. Possibly the most difficult part of this project will be the time it takes for it to be completed.

The step-by-step instructions for flattening any documents is as follows:

  • Locate a flat surface where the rolled document can be flattened for an extended period of time without being disturbed. Be sure the area that is chosen is not in direct sunlight.
  • Place a bed sheet, table cloth of just some copy paper on the flat surface to unroll the document onto. Do not lay the document directly on the table, use some kind of clean buffer between the table and the document.
  • Gently unroll the document on the flat surface with the front of the document facing down towards the table. Unroll the document slowly and carefully so as to not tear or damage the document. Temporarily place heavy books on the document to hold it down until it is lying flat.
Heavy Books, Houston County, TN. Archives

Heavy Books, Houston County, TN. Archives

  • One at a time, remove the heavy books and at the same time lay another bed sheet, table cloth or more copy paper on top of the unrolled document for protection.
  • Replace the heavy books along all four edges of the document. It is even better if heavy books can be placed on the entire document.
Books Holding Down a rolled Map, Houston County, TN. Archives

Books Holding Down a rolled Map, Houston County, TN. Archives

  • Leave the document in this position for two weeks. After two weeks, check the document and see if it is flat. If the document is not flat, leave it for another two weeks. Repeat this process until the document has flattened. It’s possible this process could take a month or more.
Flattened Maps, Houston County, TN. Archives

Flattened Maps, Houston County, TN. Archives

  • Once the documents are flattened, store them in archival boxes and on shelves.

Flattening documents in this manner is easy, inexpensive and will keep the documents from becoming damaged due to handling.

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You Can Now Follow The Archive Lady on Facebook

You Can Now Follow The Archive Lady on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/TheArchiveLady/

Researching in Libraries and Archives: The Do's and Don'ts Legacy QuickGuide

Researching in Libraries and Archives: The Do’s and Don’ts
Legacy QuickGuide 

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If you have a question about researching in archives or records preservation for The Archive Lady, send an email with your question to: melissabarker20@hotmail.com

Melissa Barker - The Archive LadyMelissa Barker lives in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee. She is the Houston County (TN) Archivist and a Professional Genealogist. She writes the blog, A Genealogist in the Archives, and has been researching her own family for over 26 years. She lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation. 

©2017, copyright Melissa Barker. All rights Reserved.