Handling Family Photos from Black Page Albums

So popular … all family albums were long narrow black sheets of paper with the treasured photos totally pasted to a page or later the use of the four corner small tabs to whole a photo in place without placing paste on the back. The album covers were leather or thick cardboard material. These type of albums dating back to the 1870s and for 50 to 60 years in the 20th century.

Today you can get black page albums but it is now of acid-free paper.

So what to do with you have the vintage black sheet paper albums?? These types of photo albums have to be handled with care and preserved properly. The paper is not acid-free and is full of chemicals. The paste that was used to adhere the photographs is also not archival and can be damaging to photographs. You might guess you have to remove the photos from such pages, but instead put on gloves. Using gloves keep the oils and dirt from your hands from getting on the photographs and causing damage. You can use white cotton gloves or regular latex gloves. Do not handle any photographs without wearing gloves.  

Next using a flatbed scanner, or digital camera to digitize the pages in the photo album because you need to lay the pages flat. Once you have digital copies of all the photos in that album, place archival tissue paper and interweave the tissue paper between each and every page. This will create a barrier between the photographs and the adjacent black paper pages. 

That album then needs to be in a proper fitting archival box (not too big or too small). Protect the edges of the albums in the box with crushed together archival tissue paper. The archival box needs to be in a dry, safe location – no sunlight on it or source of heat.

If the album is very damaged, causing damage to the photos themselves and not worth saving … after making a digital copy each photo, then cut around each photo on the black paper allowing a small border. Of course, if there are photos on the backside … cutting is impossible … even more reason for the digital scanning of each photo.

You could also have the albums and pages looked over by a professional archivist and any recommendations.

Photos: Photos glued of Hartman family & friends 1914 in FL; Photos using corners; and flatbed scanner.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Magnetic Photo Albums

Saving Family Photos

Sort Photos

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