Photos in old self stick photo albums

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    • #131883
      Kate Brownrigg
      Participant

      How should you treat photos that have been in self stick (magnetic) photo albums once you remove them from this type of enclosure? I’ve heard that these types of old photo albums are very acidic. Is there a way to treat this, such as buffered paper between the photos, or should they just be housed in archival enclosures after removal?

    • #131887
      Elizabeth Jablonski
      Participant

      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.

      Cheers,
      Elizabeth

    • #131886
      Kate Brownrigg
      Participant

      Thanks for replying Elizabeth. I’m trying to gather information for a small project we launched this year for Preservation Week. We put together a survey asking people about what they might have at home that they would like to preserve. The majority that responded said photographs, with a close second being family papers of some sort. Many added that most of these photos were in old albums–suffice to say, not archival. I’m trying to find information, if any, for treating these photos, beyond putting them in archival (acid-free) sleeves and photo boxes. I think most want to move whatever they have to better enclosures so they don’t become more damaged and I’m wondering if there’s a way to treat individual photos before reformatting.
      Thanks again for weighing in! I would also be interested in hearing from others and what ideas they may have for those who would like to keep their collections together as a whole without inviting further damage.

    • #131885
      Elizabeth Jablonski
      Participant

      The survey and then addressing the issues of most concern is such a great idea! There certainly are photographs conservators who could help, but perhaps rehousing is the most important first step–just getting them out of the acidic environment and into non-acidity would immediately cut down on risk. Then, they could be conserved one by one, as time and budget allow. If there is sticky adhesive on the backs and concern that this might stick to acid-free materials, choose acid-free tissue over cardstock or plastic. Tissue can always be teased away, fiber by fiber, whereas this is more difficult with cardstock and plastics. At least, use an acid-free tissue interleaf within any enclosures. As far as buffered vs. non-buffered, consult a paper conservator for recommendations. In terms of capturing the layout of the pages before rehousing, I wonder if scanning or photographing each page of the album, first, might be a solution? Though, you want to keep the light levels to a minimum.

      These are just some thoughts off the top of my head. I’d be interested in hearing from others.

    • #131884

      Elizabeth,

      The scanning of pages one by one is an excellent way to document what the album looked like. For more fragile albums, where there may be worry about damage when flipping them over, or if they are too big for scanning, photographing each page would work as well.

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