Caring for your historical records

There was a period of time in my early 20’s when I relocated 9 times in 5 years. Not particularly known for my organizational skills, I lost at least one box of important items during each move.  Over the years, I have had to replace my social security card at least 5 times. Two years ago, I lost my original birth certificate, the last important document I managed to keep intact.  In short, I can be a bit of a disaster when it comes to keeping track of personal records.

However, in the long standing tradition of “those who can’t do – teach”, I have plenty of tips to share on keeping your important pictures, documents, and records intact for years to come.

First, the obvious. Paper documents, such as marriage certificates, death certificate, military records and other original documents that require preservation should be stored carefully. First, ensure that they are safely put away in a folder or portfolio of some kind, rather than simply loosely placed in a box.  This will ensure protection from rips or strain, as well as from light and heat.  Paper documents such as this should be stored in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees, ideally, in a dry environment.  Folders, and portfolios contains your items can be boxed away, or placed in a filing cabinet

If you store pictures and other heirlooms in a scrapbook, certain materials can be damaging to your items. For example, synthetic glue (white glue), rubber cement, and hot glue should not be used, if at all possible.  The chemicals in these particular materials can be damaging to photographs, plastics, and other precious items.  Additionally, albums with self-stick pages should be avoided, as the materials in the glue can degrade regular, construction, and photo paper. Photos, birth certificates, and other paperwork should be displayed in clear sleeves without glue or other mounting materials.  You can create paper corners to mount pictures using triangles of index cards or construction paper which allows you to mount them safely.

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