Sometimes it can be amazing now long certain heirlooms we possess have lasted over the years. Yet, the question arises, how many have faded, been torn or even crumbled and lost to the ages? So that is why it is so important to make every effort to preserve those documents, photos and paper items now.
Newspapers were never meant to last. They were printed on low quality wood pulp paper with even poorer quality ink and then having a high acid content, they can be very hard to a save. First, make a photocopy and a scanned digital copy of the newspaper article or page you want. Then actually type out on a computer word processor the text of the article, save that and print a copy for your files. So if that newspaper does eventually become brittle and fall to pieces, you have the articles in several different formats.
To save the newspaper, place them in polyester photograph sleeves or encapsulation envelopes which are designed to hold newspaper clippings. These sleeves then can be placed in a scrapbook (and away from any sunlight) for just newspapers or one for that family surname. Never glue them into a scrapbook.
Full newspaper pages or whole issues of newspapers should be in an acid-free, buffered archival box and laying flat. There are many archival supply vendors available online such as Gaylord Bros., University Products and Archival Products as well as those found in local arts and crafts stores.
The same storage and preservation methods apply to original paper documents and certificates such as marriage certificates, baptismal records and military discharge records. Besides making copies, placement in the archival sleeves and boxes and keeping them in a temperature and humidity controlled environment will help insure they will be around for years to come. So never store any records, photos, documents, etc., in an attic, shed, carport, laundry room, garage or basement.
Remove any staples, paperclips or other clips from all documents and try to keep the item as flat as possible, making sure there are not too many folds will help preserve it. Make sure you label any scrapbook album or storage box, it makes it so much easier in the future when you want to look at the original material.
For your photos of any age or style, make sure they are out of those magnetic page photo albums used years ago. Don’t pull at the photo, it will tear. Instead a plastic clip gently lifting from underneath the album page and the photo will help loosen it up. If unsuccessful, cut the photo out of the album board with the album backing attached.
Any new photo storage box, display album must have the label of “PAT” which stands for Photograph Activity Test. The storage sleeves or boxes that meet the ‘PAT’ standards are the finest and highest standards for safety of the family photos. Accept nothing less for the family keepsakes.
A good way to display or hang a framed certificate or document to is make a good copy of the item. Never display the original. You can still view the image and also preserve the irreplaceable one. The example above is a scanned digital copy of my oldest heirloom – the Jacob Bixler receipt of a purchase from January 13, 1789.