Reply To: Photos in old self stick photo albums

Elizabeth Jablonski

This would probably be best answered by a paper conservator, but these thoughts might help:
1) You are correct in that the self-adhesive albums are acidic. The adhesive can discolor the items and accelerate their aging.
2) However, even though the album pages are acidic, the album can still have meaning, as an indication of the previous owner’s choices. The collection, as whole, put together by the owner in that way that it exists, also has meaning. By removing the items from this context, this type of information is in danger of being lost. You might want to consider a way to accurately capture this information in your records before the album is dismantled–or even if it should dismantled at all.
3) A paper conservator could help you understand the physical ramifications for the items if and when they are removed from the album. For instance, the adhesive from the pages can remain adhered to the items and end up sticking to other materials.

I hope that helps! I would be interested in hearing from others about this, if possible.