Removing Photos from Adhesive Cardboard Albums

Dear Donia,
How do I safely remove photos from an old photo album with adhesive, cardboard pages?

Adhesive photo album


Q. Dear Donia,

I have an old photo album with adhesive, cardboard pages and clear plastic sheets that cover the photos once they're mounted on the page. I recently tried to remove photos that are over 30 years old to put in a new album to no avail. The pictures are stuck, and I have damaged several in my attempt to remove them. Can the pictures be removed without damaging them? Thank you, Terry

A. Dear Terry,

Thanks for your question about a problematic issue! The "magic" albums of the 1970's and 80's are a particular problem. The adhesive used deteriorates and really glues the photos to the page over time and the cover sleeve tends to shrink over time. The safest and easiest way to get your photos out is by using a simple tool that many of us have in the house already​—unwaxed dental floss. Rather than give a lengthy description, please refer to the great video created by Smithsonian Archivist Rachael Woody: How to get out of a sticky situation! This excellent video will give you all the information you need to proceed with your project and not damage any more of your photos. Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any further questions.