How can I reformat old photo negatives without damaging them?
Q. Dear Donia,
A. Dear Christine,
What a fantastic find! Do you know if your family member was the person who made the film? I am guessing this is a motion picture film as still photographic film on reels wasn't really common until the 19-teens. If I am wrong, please let me know.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to flatten the film and make scans for the average person. Nitrate film (if these are indeed from 1898, the film base would be cellulose nitrate) gets very brittle and can easily be destroyed with moisture and are extremely flammable if they come into contact with high heat or flame so it is best to have them assessed and scanned by a professional. The Library of Congress or the National Archives can help you find someone in the DC Metro area that can help you with the reformatting.
Thank you for asking about this great find! Please let me know if I am in error about the motion picture versus still image film question.