Archival Photo Albums

Archival Photo Albums
There is a right way and a wrong way to do just about everything.

As a museum curator, I am often faced with well-meaning individuals who have permanently damaged their precious memories by choosing the wrong photo album.

The worst are the ones with “magnetic” pages. In the past, these were quite common. And despite the fact that they can ruin your photos, they are still being sold!

Avoid them at all costs!!

If you have old pictures in one of these photo albums, get it out and take a look at it. If you can easily do it, gently peel each photo off the page. If there is any resistance at all, STOP! You don’t want to risk ruining your photos.

If you aren’t able to get your photos off the pages, you have a few options:

1. Contact a conservator to help you remove the photos. Be aware that it won’t be cheap. Conservators are highly trained museum professionals, whose painstaking work can be quite time consuming and therefore expensive. But if your photos are important to you, it is well worth the cost.

2. Scan the photos right from the album and print out new copies. You can do it yourself if you have a photo printer. Or you can upload your files to a service like Kodak Gallery, Snapfish, or Shutterfly (they are all basically the same). Or you can have prints made at Walmart, Walgreens, and other stores that you can pick up yourself.

3. Take your album to a copy place and have color photocopies made. The equipment available today makes very high quality copies that look almost identical to the originals! Be sure never to leave your album to pick up later. Have them make the copies while you wait. If they are too busy, choose another time to come back.

While you’re making copies of the photos, why not order more than one? You can make multiple albums for different family members, or you can use one copy to cut up while scrapbooking.

Family photo albums make great gifts! You can choose a theme – maybe birthdays, Christmas, summer vacations, etc. Or you can choose a specific person and fill the album with photos of that person. A few years ago my grandmother went through her photo collection and made an album for each of her five children. My mom’s is full of great pictures of my sister and me when we were little!

OK, now that you’ve got your prints, what’s next? You need to find the right album.

Choosing an archival photo album is really quite simple. You can purchase one of two kinds:

1. An album with “plastic” sleeves. But the sleeves aren’t really plastic. They are made of a stable material called polypropylene, which is crystal clear and acid-free.

2. An old-fashioned paper album with photo corners. Just be sure to choose an album that is made of acid-free materials to avoid ruining your photos over time.

Here are some museum-quality product suppliers where you can order a photo album that will keep your photos safe:

Gaylord Brothers

University Products

A simple search for “photo albums” will produce a wide variety of types and styles!

You Should Also Read:
Keep Your Holiday Photos Safe
Preserving Your Heirloom Textiles
So You Want to be a Curator

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This content was written by Kim Kenney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kim Kenney for details.