Dear Donia. . .

Send your preservation questions to Donia.Document Preservation Kit from Hollinger Metal Edge

We all have keepsakes we treasure and preservation specialist Donia Conn provides tips on how to take care of our special photographs, letters, books, and more in her advice column, Dear Donia.


Monthly Raffle

Each month Donia selects a question at random and sends the contributor a Document Preservation Kit from sponsor, Hollinger Metal Edge. Read more about the Dear Donia Monthly Raffle.

Storing a family history collection

 Hypes Family Papers

Q. Dear Donia, I have little space in which to store my family history collection, numerous & various papers, photos, bibles, etc. I have encased most in polypropylene sleeves, from there... | more


Removing the musty smell from objects stored in a damp basement

damp basement wall

Q. Dear Donia, If items (holiday decor, furniture, 35mm film negatives, etc.) have been stored in a damp basement and have a musty smell but no visible mold, what should be done to them before moving... | more

Is there a low-cost way to digitize old newspapers?

Old newspaper: Sacramento Reporter

Q. Dear Donia, I have some old newspapers (from 1875) that I want to preserve. Is there a low-cost way to digitize the content or should I plan on preserving the paper artifact? more


Preserving old photos and newspaper clippings

Ice skating on a frozen river circa 1900

Q. Dear Donia, I am a volunteer at my local public library assisting with the preservation of articles and photographs through copying and arranging the copies of the photographs and articles... | more

Storing USB drives in the archive

USB portable flash drive

Q. Dear Donia, We plan to copy audio/visual information from tapes, CDs and DVDs onto USB drives. Would a neoprene case be a good place to store these USB drives? Or would this be... | more


Options for framing Civil War discharge paper

Discharge paper for Myron Kennedy,1865-06-23

Q. Dear Donia, I would like to display in a frame my great-great-grandfather's Civil War discharge paper. It has printing and handwriting on both sides. What are my options? It has... | more

Removing old photos from albums with waxy pages and plastic cover sheets

Old photo album

Q. Dear Donia, How can I remove old photos from those pesky photo albums with the "waxy" pages and plastic cover sheets? When I remove the plastic covering sheet the photos are tightly... | more




Unframe a letter?

framed letter

Q. Dear Donia, A letter written in 1806 is sandwiched between two panes of glass and framed. I am afraid that the glass will break and destroy the letter. Should I have the letter removed... | more

Dad's Baby Book

preserving old albums

Q. Dear Donia, I have the original baby book of my dad given to me by my grandma. The adhesives are mostly tape, is there a way to change them without causing too much more damage or is it better to place...  more



Should I remove glue from my grandmother's scrapbook pages?

Old scrapbook page

Q. Dear Donia, My grandmother's photo album from the 1920s has some lovely images, but they're all glued to these thick black scrapbook pages. Is there anything I can do, or how can I find a... more

Storing grandfather's bible?

Old bible

Q. Dear Donia, I have a pocket-size hard cover bible that my grandfather carried as a chaplain in WWII.  The binding is fallling apart and some of the pages are starting to tatter. What is the best... | more




Preserve Grandma's hand-drawn, 1930s paper dolls and their wardrobes?

Hand drawn paper dolls from the 30s

Q. Dear Donia, I want to preserve my Grandma's hand drawn 1930's paper dolls and their wardrobes. There are two dolls, about 3 x 7 inches, with hundreds of dresses, shoes, hats, purses, etc... | more

Laminate an onion skin letter?

Airmail envelope from 1940s

Q. Dear Donia, I have a letter written on onion skin paper dated 1945. Can I laminate it to preserve it? more


Hand-made Raggedy Ann doll

Raggedy Ann doll

Q. Dear Donia, How can I preserve and display a hand-made Raggedy Ann doll? I'd prefer not to put it in a case... | more

ABC Sampler

Remove a water stain from an embroidered sampler

Q. Dear Donia, My mother embroidered a sampler about 55 years ago and it has been in a frame for more than 20 years.  I had it stored in the garage, and unfortunately, it got wet at the bottom and... | more




Store photos in a bank safety deposit box?

storing photos in a safety deposit box

Q. Dear Donia, I have documents and photos stored in a long narrow bank safety deposit box. Are they protected or should I also put them in archival paper? There is not room in the box for folders... | more

Sharing grandfather's WWII diary online

WW II Diary

Q. Dear Donia, I have my grandfather's WWII diary. Can you suggest ways to make it available online? Can you recommend any free software or suggest products... | more


Preserving paper currency and coins

British coins

Q. Dear Donia, My mother has British paper currency and coins from 50+ years ago. It's the currency that was used before the current pounds and coins were introduced, so some of... | more

Preserve Onion Skin Paper

Excerpt of letter from 1831

Q. You asked, and we answered!  Last December, we asked our Facebook followers if they had specific questions about preserving old photos, letters or family documents... | more


Use Pale Blue Tissue Paper to Preserve Fabrics?

historic letters stored in box

Q. You asked, and we answered!  Last December, we asked our Facebook followers if they had specific questions about preserving old photos, letters or family documents... | more