Genealogy Records – Preserve Those Ancestors – Important Step #3 in Family Research
Researching ancestors, searching genealogy sites and making a family tree takes a lot of time. You must get in good habits now and use acid and lignin-free products. Until you want to organize your photos and newspaper clippings, you might want to use acid-free boxes. Keep newspapers and clippings separate from other documents and photos. Also, never trust the archival quality label on products. Research them and make sure they are really safe to use. Use these tips and your documents, records and pictures will be enjoyed by many generations.
You are not pickling the ancestors, but you need to know how to preserve those precious documents and photos. Promise yourself right off the bat that you will be organized and systematic about finding and storing important documents concerning your ancestors. When you receive such documents in the mail, put them immediately in acid-free plastic report covers. If you print them off a printer (using acid-free paper and ink) put them immediately in a plastic report cover. Acids gradually deteriorate or disintegrate paper. Over time, acidic paper becomes brittle. Lignin is a chemical substance found in wood that bonds cellulose, making wood stronger; paper without lignin is not as strong. However, lignin breaks down over time, turning the paper brown and releasing acids. Therefore, look for acid and lignin free supplies.
Do not use rubber bands, paper clips or staples that will deteriorate and rust, ruining papers. Go to the store and purchase acid-free supplies, such as paper, ink, glue, tape, pens, and photo holders. Speaking of pictures, they are a challenge to preserve. The old black and whites that have been stored in a cool, dry spot are in better shape than those put in the magnetic photo albums in use in the 1960s and 1970s. If they have been glued on paper, you might use dental floss to gently remove them. Nearly all paper made before the 1850s was acid-free. Those documents have and will survive for centuries. Nearly all paper made from the 1940s through the 1980s is highly acidic and yellows quickly. Look at old newspapers, they are brittle and yellow. Most printer paper used for documents nowadays is acid-free. “Google” Archival Methods for a good source of acid-and lignin-free products.
Wear cheap cotton gloves when you are handling those documents and pictures to keep oil and moisture off. Never write on a picture. In case you just have to, pencil is better for them than ink. Archival quality pens are available to purchase and they last a long time. Do label your pictures. I have boxes and albums of unknown pictures that may never be identified as the relatives are all gone. Store photos and documents in a cool, dry place. Never in the attic or basement. Fire proof safes and document holders are available. Be sure to use acid free pens when you want to add something to, for example, a census report.
Pictures of your ancestors, birth, marriage and baptism certificates are truly precious articles and prove the existence of your family. Get in good habits of using only archival, acid-free and lignin-free products and in the storage of your family documents for their preservation for several life-times.