Our Top 5 List | Family Photos, Genealogy & Archival Care


Our Top 5 List: Family Photos, Genealogy & Archival Care



The author’s father “Juddy” (in red box) on his grandfather Delap’s (my great-grandfather’s) boat. Along with my dad’s grandmother “Nan” Delap, someone named “Florence”, and my dad’s mother (my grandmother) Genevieve. On board the “Ann Gee May”, Florida, March 1935. Wow, what a wealth of info!!! I didn’t even know I had a photo album with this much family detail until I … um … looked for it (said the author, a bit sheepishly). (Please click on the image for our fully-illustrated blog on Preserving Old Photo Albums.)



Perhaps, gentle readers, “you and I are in the same boat,” as the old proverb goes (see pix above). 



  genealogy       genealogy  
A formal color portrait of dad & mom (left) and a drawing of mom as a young woman (right), both of which I inherited as part of the family archive.
Did ya notice that the color portrait seems a bit faded? Yes, folks, that’s “light damage” from being hung in my parents house for years and years
in a frame that DID NOT have ultraviolet light-reducing glazing.
(Please click on the left image for our fully-illustrated blog on Light Damage: Protecting Your Collections from Harm,
and on the right image for Archivally Storing & Preserving Paper Drawings.)



Since my dad passed on a number of years ago—and my mom has been deceased for quite a long time now (see pix above)—there are fewer and fewer ways for me to find out “who’s who” and “what’s what” in many of the old family photographs and genealogy materials I have been keeping as part of the “family archive.” For example, who the heck was “Florence” (see album pix above)???

Come to think of it, many of us—including myself—have stuff in our family archives that we DON’T EVEN KNOW we have!

Bottom line:  I (and YOU!) should really start thinkin’ about addressing this situation NOW!



Yeah, so just WHO ARE these folks in this old amateur photo postcard, and how do they fit into my family’s history? Well, I now have some challenges in finding out – but there ARE ways of sleuthing around (see below)! And on a brighter note, if YOU have pix like this in YOUR family archive, RIGHT NOW is the PERFECT time to pull them out and ask family and relations about “who’s who” and “what’s what.” Read on! (Please click on the image to see our illustrated – and quite humorous! – blog on Postcards: Family History and Archival Care.)



So, to actually GET STARTED (instead of just thinkin’ about it!), I need to ask myself three rather simple and basic questions (the same questions I hope YOU’LL ask YOURSELF!):


     what DO WE HAVE in our family archive or genealogy collections that is important to us

    what CAN WE DO to identify “who’s who” / “what’s what” / “when’s when”

     what MUST WE DO to archivally preserve our precious photos and genealogy archives 



Yeah, folks, it may seem daunting to grab all your old photos & family history or genealogy materials, but it’s actually NOT! And once you start sorting through stuff in order to organize and archivally preserve it you’ll be AMAZED at just how cool the discovery (or rediscovery!) of fascinating stuff actually is! (Please click on the pix to see our fully-illustrated blog on Setting Up a Great Work Space.)



To do this, folks, I’m gonna gonna look at some of the stuff in MY OWN collection—with a focus (no pun intended) on old family photos and letters/documents, but with info on EVERYTHING ELSE sprinkled in here and there—with the understanding that everything I’m discussing here applies to everything in YOUR OWN family photo / genealogy / family archive collections!



Old family letters (these are from my father’s father from the 1920s & 30s) can have a wealth of cool stuff in ’em! It’s up to me (and YOU!) to find this stuff, check it out for interesting family info, and then archivally preserve it for generations to come. (Please click on this pix to see out fully-illustrated blog on Preserving Old Letters in the Digital Age.)



So, just WHAT should we do with our treasured snapshots and genealogy materials—old and new???

Well, here is our quick TOP 5 LIST of ways to get started organizing and archivally preserving the irreplaceable artifacts in our family archives, and “archives” is plural on purpose, folks, as often we each have a number of such things—from family recipes to children’ toys, and from old photo albums to important family letters / birth certificates / & newspaper and magazine articles (please click on each link for specific / fully-illustrated information)



          1.) find your old photos & genealogy materials

          2.) organize & sort your photos & family archive treasures

          3.) identify / date your photos & other family documents

          4.) print your photos & make digital or print copies (or BOTH!) of family documents

          5.) archivally organize / store / even mat & frame(!) your treasures 



Sound like too much to do with everything else going on in your life?

NO WORRIES, as our TOP 5 LIST is just a general guide! You can take your time on these projects (it’s actually recommended that you do!), and the whole point is to 1.) GET STARTED and 2.) ENJOY YOURSELF!

So, to break it down just a bit, here’s our TOP 5 LIST explained (and please click on each image for more information):





Our Top 5 List: Family Photos, Genealogy & Archival Care



One of my dad’s old watches, from the family archive. (Please click on the image to see our fully-illustrated blog on Basic Tips for Storing Family Heirlooms.)



First things first – get started! (yeah, like THIS WEEKEND, folks!)

OK, so I get it, life is a little hectic, and time is always in short supply (see pix above).

Yet take an hour or two out and gather your pix, heirlooms, and family letters (even old recipes – see below).

You & your family will be glad you did!






  genealogy           genealogy  
“Just say no” to attic and basement storage of old photos and family archives.
If ya want to read about how bad things can get, check out our fully-illustrated Archival Horror Stories blog. Yikes!
(Please click on either image for more information.)


#1  find your old photos and genealogy materials

Since family photos and such should NEVER be stored in an attic or basement anyway (because of wide—and harmful—temperature and humidity fluctuations / the possibility of leaky roofs or pipes & water heaters), go grab ’em. Then click here for our fully-illustrated blog on Finding Family Artifacts.






  genealogy        genealogy  
Whether you’re sorting through old letters or old photographs, “context” can be important (see below). Also, keep the use of Post-It Notes to a minimum, and use colored index cards that you can color-code yourself (see pix above) instead. Either way, however, both of these options are for temporary use while sorting, as Post-It Notes have adhesives that can damage fragile images and documents (so you never want to stick them directly to actual photographs or documents anyway), and regular index cards are not acid-free. (Please see our fully-illustrated blog on Setting Up a Great Work Space that covers more of this info.)



#2  organize and sort your photos & family archive treasures

We have a complete, fully-illustrated blog on this exact topic entitled Sorting Through Family History. What you may also discover while sorting through your family archives is that sometimes it’s easy to identify “who’s who” and “what’s what” when it comes to old photos or interesting documents in your genealogy or family archive, and sometimes it’s just not.

A quick hint: keep “stuff” together, in a relative way, as you’re sorting it out, as often the “context” of where you find a family photograph or document in an old shoebox or other storage container will help you determine who it originally belonged to and where it fits within your family’s history.






  genealogy     genealogy     genealogy  
(Please click on each image – left to right – for our illustrated blogs on Preserving Family Postcards / Dating Old Photos / Preserving Photo Albums.)


#3  identify  / date your photos & other family documents

To help you find out “who’s who” / “what’s what” / “when’s when,” ask your relatives to help you identify photos or documents—either in person or by sending them a scan—as other family members are often a GREAT help with this! Also, if you find a photograph of someone who IS identified, you can use this image as a reference to identify the same person in images where they’re NOT identified. Boom! Rosetta Stone images!

And for more information on dating your old photos / 35mm slides / 8mm home movies and such, check out our fully-illustrated blog on Dating Old Photos and Media.






  genealogy      genealogy  
Old school film processing envelopes from the corner drugstore. Inside are treasures of family history, most often including original negatives
and INVALUABLE info written on the outside of each packet including dates / addresses where people lived when they dropped off their film / etc.
(Please click on either image for more information.)

  genealogy      genealogy  
Pix on left: 35mm slides from the family archive. Sometimes these are the ONLY images of certain people or events!
Pix on right: a print of Grandpa from the 1960s, made from the center slide, which absolutely MUST enter the family’s genealogy archive!
(Please click on either image to see our blog on Preserving 35mm Slides.)


#4  print your photos & make digital or print copies (or BOTH!) of family documents

If you run across 35mm slides or old negatives, GET THE “GOOD ONES” PRINTED! 

While you’re going through your old film processing envelopes from back in the day (see top pix), take some extra time to compare the pictures in each packet with the negatives that are often found in the same envelope. Sometimes the BEST photos were pulled out of these envelopes years ago for placement in albums / frames / or even to be carried around in someone’s wallet.

Fear not, however, as you still have the original negative (that’s why you should ALWAYS save them), so go ahead and get a copy of missing prints made! Then take the negatives and prints out of their crappy old processing envelopes and store them TOGETHER in an archival kit, and copy any identifying info from the old envelope onto a new acid-free enclosures. (For more info, please take a look at our fully-illustrated blog on Preserving Snapshots.)

And, while you’re at it, print your best 35mm SLIDES, too (see bottom pix). You’ll be glad you did! 

Lastly, make scans of important letters & documents so that you can handle COPIES while the originals are safely stored in archival file folders / envelopes / or enclosures. (Please click here to see our VERY popular fully-illustrated blog on Preserving Letters in the Digital Age.)






  genealogy     genealogy     family photos
(Please click on each image – left to right – for specific product information on Matting / Framing / Archival Binders.)


#5  archivally organize / store / even mat & frame your treasures

Archivally mat and frame the best pix, and perhaps even your most important documents, while safely storing all the rest of what you find in your family archive.

And “SAFELY STORING” your stuff is perhaps one of the MOST IMPORTANT aspects of this endeavor, so check out ALL the great resources and easy-to-use / all-in-one kits that Archival Methods has created to make this part EASY! (Please click here, or on the pix below, for more info.) 



Yes folks, Archival Methods’ acid-free all-in-one kits will make sorting and archivally preserving all sorts of photographs, snapshots, documents and other stuff in your family archive quick ‘n easy!!! (Please click on the image for more information.)





Our Top 5 List: Family Photos, Genealogy & Archival Care



  genealogy       genealogy  
Some of the stuff you’ll find in your family archive is either cool, or weird, or both! So find it / organize it / archivally preserve it / share it!
(Please click on the left image for our short video on Preserving Family Photographs
and the right image for our fully illustrated blog on Preserving Old Newspapers.) 



So, while the Top 5 List above is focused on old photos and important documents from my (and YOUR!) genealogy or family archive, you’re sure to find MANY OTHER categories of family treasures as you begin to sort things out / organize them / and archivally preserve them.

We hope you’ll check out our whole range of informative, fully-illustrated blogs that cover the archival preservation of dozens of types of artifacts you’ll find that YOU have, a small sample of which are illustrated below.






  genealogy     genealogy     genealogy  
Don’t forget that old family recipes are an important part of your family history and genealogy!
(Please click on each image for specific archival product info, and see our fully-illustrated blog on Preserving Old Family Recipes.)






  Wedding Hanging Dress Front Sideways       genealogy  
Yes, folks, old wedding dresses, baby clothes, uniforms and other sentimental fabric items need special care. Find out more!
(Please click on either image to see our fully-illustrated blog on Preserving Wedding Dresses & Heirloom Fabrics.)






  genealogy    genealogy    genealogy 
A large battery-powered airplane given to the author of this blog at Xmas around 1964 / the same plane archivally protected!
(Please click on each image for specific archival product info, and see our fully-illustrated blog on Preserving Toys / Old and New.)






You can also watch our short TeeVee videos on a host of methods & products for archivally preserving everything from common snapshots to fine art portfolios, with tons of stuff in between! (Please click on the image to see our complete list of short videos.)





So, there you have it, folks, our TOP 5 LIST of things to do to find and archivally protect your family archives!


          1.) find your old photos & genealogy materials

          2.) organize & sort your photos & family archive treasures

          3.) identify / date your photos & other family documents

          4.) print your photos & make digital or print copies (or BOTH!) of family documents

          5.) archivally organize / store / even mat & frame(!) your treasures 


Let us know if there’s anything else we can help ya sort through, as we’re always just a phone call or email away!





Got a question? Want more info? Give us a call!
(Please click on the image for more information.)


Contact Us

If you have any additional questions on preserving your old photos and anything else in your collection, or would you like more information on any of our museum-quality archival storage and presentation materials, please contact us here at Archival Methods. We’re always there to help with any archiving, storage, or presentation questions you may have.

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