Preserving Photos from Sticky Photo Album Pages

Dear Donia,
How do I preserve photos from old sticky scrapbook album pages?

Removing photos from sticky albums


Q. Dear Donia,

I was wondering if the old scrapbook albums (1970-1990) with the sticky pages are helping my mom's photos deteriorate faster over time? I was looking to move them into an acid-free box with photo storage pages, but noticed she has a handful of these types of albums. Obviously moving them into a better environment will help in their preservation, but I wanted to know if this project should be high priority on my list or something that I can take some time doing. Thank you, Kayla

A. Dear Kayla,

The old "magic" photo albums with sticky pages are damaging to the photographs. The adhesive will become very sticky over time making it difficult to remove the photos, the adhesive can turn brown and stain the back of the photo, and the acetate cover of the earlier albums can shrink and expose the photos to dust. It would be best to get them out of there sooner rather than later.
If you find the photos are sticking, you can remove them carefully with dental floss. The Smithsonian Institution Archives has a very helpful video on this process.
Thanks for asking! If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to ask "Dear Donia" again.