Saving Your Stuff

audio   |   books   |   data   |   documents and paper   |   film and home movies   |  photos   |   scrapbooks   |   slides   |   textiles

Use these quick tips as a starting point for taking care of your precious items. Learn more about Preservation Week.

audio materials

Audio

  1. Store magnetic media (cassettes or reel to reel) or discs (CDs and LPs) vertically in a cool dry place.
  2. Make sure playback equipment is clean and in good working order.
  3. Label containers with the event, location, people, and date.
  4. Reel-to-reel tapes should be stored tails out (wound backwards on the reel) to minimize the effects of sound bleed-through.
  5. Remove copy protection tabs to avoid accidentally overwriting.
    learn more. . .
old books
Photograph by Julie Martin, NEDCC.

Books

  1. Store books in an environment where you are comfortable and away from direct sunlight.
  2. Use polyester covers to protect dust jackets or to keep deteriorating leather from staining other books. Fragile or damaged books can be stored in boxes.
  3. Handle books with clean, dry hands.
  4. Dust the tops of the books regularly to minimize pests and mold.
  5. Seal wooden shelves with water-based polyurethane or latex paint.
    learn more. . .

Film and Home Movies


  1. Store home movies in a cool, dry place.
  2. Keep films in their canisters or boxes to keep out dust and light.
  3. Label boxes and films with the event, location, people, and date.
  4. Store home movies with sound tails out (wound backwards on the reel) to minimize the effects of sound bleed-through.
  5. Participate in Home Movie Day to be able to watch and share your home movies with family and your community.
    learn more. . .
man working on room-size computer
Dr. J. W. Mauchly and ENIAC

Data

  1. Back up multiple copies of your data on multiple types of media, and store in multiple locations.
  2. Name and organize your files and add to the file’s metadata.
  3. Migrate and refresh files when you get new software packages or a new operating system.
  4. Save files in stable, non-proprietary formats such as .pdf, .jpg, or .tif.
  5. Select and save only those files (email, photos, etc.) that are particularly important to you.
    learn more. . .
close up of a peice of sewn fabric being repaired
Image courtesy of Museum Textile Services.

Textiles

  1. Store textiles in an environment where you are comfortable being. Basements can be damp and lead to mold.
  2. Box or roll and cover textiles to prevent damage from dust and light.  Inspect regularly for insects.
  3. Do not fold if you don’t have to. If you have to, pad the folds with tissue.
  4. Display dyed textiles away from direct light to minimize fading.
  5. Hang historic clothing on well-padded hangers and cover with plain cotton.
    learn more. . .
documents

Documents and Paper

  1. Store papers in an environment where you are comfortable being. Basements can be damp and lead to mold.
  2. Organize papers into acid-free folders and boxes for easy access and to protect from light and damage. 
  3. Handle papers with clean, dry hands.
  4. Protect artwork and documents from direct sunlight when displaying.
  5. Don’t force rolled or folded items open if they resist.  Call a conservator.
    learn more. . .
slides

Slides

  1. Store slides in a cool, dry place.
  2. Keep slides in their carousels or boxes to keep out dust and light.
  3. Label the containers with the event, location, people, and date.
  4. Use polyester, polyethylene, or polypropylene sleeves to store loose slides, not PVC.
  5. Clean the film side, not the emulsion side, with a cotton swab dipped in a water/ethanol mixture if slides are dirty. Clean the emulsion side with a gentle puff of air or lightly with a very soft brush.
    learn more. . .
a pile of photos
Photograph courtesy of: Julie Martin, NEDCC.

Photos

  1. Handle photographs at the edges with clean, dry hands.
  2. Store photographs in albums that have acid-free pages or polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene sleeves. 
  3. Mount photographs with photo corners, not glue or tape.
  4. Store photographs in an environment where you are comfortable. Basements can be damp and lead to mold.
  5. Protect from direct sunlight when displaying.
    learn more. . .
scrapbook
Photograph courtesy of: Julie Martin, NEDCC.

Scrapbooks

  1. Store scrapbooks in an environment where you are comfortable and away from direct sunlight.
  2. Store older, fragile scrapbooks in protective boxes flat, not upright, on a shelf.
  3. Handle scrapbooks with clean, dry hands and turn pages with one hand underneath to protect heavy scraps.
  4. New scrapbooks should have acid-free support pages.
  5. Use photo corners to mount items in a scrapbook, not tape or rubber cement.

Oral Histories | go

Artifacts: Glass, Ceramics, Wood, Metal  | go

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