Mankind has a particular inclination to preserving history that is important to them – such as the earliest carvings and chiseled images in the caves. From those drawn records human kind moved on to written documentation. Keeping photographs as records is a new invention in this field, but may be not new enough. Though photography has been around from 1838, but many people still do not know how to care for the precious photographs showcasing their family history. There are many photographs passed on from one generation to the other, but sadly a majority of them get lost due to the lack of proper care. Remember, a photograph lost is some memories about the family lost, and you cannot afford that. Photographs are a sort of graphic portrayal of the lives of your ancestors, their practices, clothing styles, hair styles and other characteristics. They are invaluable from the records point of view. The easiest way to care for ageing photographs would be archival digital prints. But if you are a do-it-yourself fan then there are some other ways too.
How to Care for these Precious Things?
• Oil, dirt and dust are detrimental for the health of any photograph (especially ageing ones). When handling such negatives or prints you should make it a point to hold them along the edges. Wearing white cotton gloves is also preferable.
• Most of you commit a cardinal sin. You stack the valuable photographs in the empty basements or un-insulated attics. The humidity in the summer months and low temperatures in winter can cause cracks in the photographs. In some cases you will find that the picture gets separated from the photo paper. When there is dampness in the storing area, the photographs tend to stick to one another. On top of that, these places are heavenly for the pests and the rodents. If the rodents get some time with your precious photographs, it is worth saying your collection is gone for once and all. The photographs should be stored in a room with constant temperature of 650F-700F and a relative humidity of 50%. You may even deposit some of the important photographs in the safe deposit vaults of banks where the temperature is ideal.
• Do not store the negatives and their photo prints in the same place. Keep them separated, so that if the print is destroyed you can always get a new one.
• You should not write on the back of photos with the felt tip ink pens or ball point pens. These inks contain acids that will stain your photos in the long run. If you do not have acid free photo marker, use the lead pencil and write softly.
• Use of rubber bands and paper clips to hold the photos together is also not a good practice. Rubber bands contain sulpur that can significantly deteriorate the photographs. Paper clips on the other hand scratch the surface of photos.
If you are mindful of these caring tips then the treasured family photographs will bear testimony to your ancestors for many, many years. But these are time consuming practices and commonly people would turn to archival digital prints to elongate the life of their memories.