When Bad Things Happen to Good Photographs

Damaged photograph of an unidentified farm in Kimball County, Nebraska (RG5251.PH57)

Damaged photograph of an unidentified farm in Kimball County, Nebraska (RG5251.PH57)

Do you have a collection of old photographs? Are you not sure what to do with them or how to care for them?  Luckily, there are many great resources out there about caring for you heirloom photographs.

One of those resources is me. I am giving a Brown Bag Lecture on caring for your heirloom photographs this Thursday, May 20th at 12:00pm at the Nebraska History Museum, 15th and P Streets, Lincoln, NE. I will be talking about how to store, protect, and care for your family’s photographs.

So, what is the most important thing you can do to save your heirloom photographs?  Consider a change in storage location.  Photographs are very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity.  I recommend storing your photographs in interior closets or under your bed.  Avoid places with no environmental controls like attics, unfinished basements, garages, and barns.

The photograph [RG5251.PH57] I have featured in this post has had a hard life.  It is from a photograph album of Kimball County, Nebraska.  It is suffering from several ailments including water damage, mold, fading, staining and missing a corner.  The image has been glued into an album on poor quality paper.  This lovely farmstead was either never identified or the identification washed away with the water damage.

To learn more about caring for your family’s heirloom photographs, check out the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center’s Saving Your Treasure photograph website: http://www.netnebraska.org/extras/treasures/photographs.htm.

Karen Keehr, Curator of the Visual and Audio Collections

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