Preserving Photos Stuck to Acetate Covers in a Photo Album

old wedding albumDear Donia,
How do I save photos that are stuck to acetate covers on the pages?

Q. Dear Donia,

I would like to digitalize my parent's wedding album photos from 1950 but the clear plastic that was supposed to protect the photographs has melted onto the photos. The clear plastic is crinkled and yellowed, and on some photos the plastic peels right off leaving tiny spots of sticky residue and on other photos it peels off in some areas but is stuck to other areas. Do you know of something that would remove the clear plastic and/or the sticky residue? Would placing the photographs in water help? Any advice would be appreciated! I'd love to save this album. Thank you, Judi

A. Dear Judi,

I am so sorry to hear about what has happened to your parent's wedding album! It sounds like you have acetate covers on the pages. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this problem. I would recommend taking your album to a conservator for their input on the problem since without seeing the item, I cannot really give any concrete advice. However, there is a conservation firm that you can contact in Miami.

They can help or refer you to a professional digitization lab that can scan the images as they are and clean up the images so you have good digital copies in the event the acetate won't come off.

I am sorry I cannot be the bearer of better news but this is the best approach if you want to save the images.