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Federal Depository Library Program

Archives - Photographs - Storing

Storing Photographs
Correct handling of photographs will aid in preserving them for as long as possible.

DOs

  1. Wear lint-free cotton gloves when handling photographs.
  2. Record information on photocopies of images or in pencil on the back near the edge of the photograph.
  3. Archival-quality, acid-free storage materials should be used.
  4. Prints and negatives should be individually stored in sleeves or acid-free envelopes.
  5. Images should be stored flat in acid free boxes or vertically with spacers so they will not slump.

DONTs

  1. Labels and identification stamps should never be applied directly to photographs. Adhesives fail after time and ink damages the photo.
  2. Refrain from using ink or marking pens on either the front or back of photographs, as the ink can bleed into the image area.
  3. Do not store photographs in attics or in the damp basement next to water sources or in storage areas holding cleaning supplies or recently painted rooms. Heat and humidity can cause more rapid deterioration of images. Air pollution from cleaners and car exhaust can rapidly damage images, especially color.
  4. Do not use paper clips, rupper bands or tape on photographs. Paper clips rust and deform the image with pressure. Rubber bands deteriorate and stick to image and the adhesive on tape degrades and the transparent base yellows.
  5. Avoid excess exposure to light, especially sunlight and flourescent. Color photographs will fade rapidly with prolonged exposure.

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