Keeping History

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Preservation Basics for the Family Historian

Preservation Basics for the Family Historian

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  • 1. Keeping History Preservation for the Family Historian Katie Mullen Conservator, Indiana State Library
  • 2. Know Your Enemies
  • 3. Preservation Threats
    • Light
    • Heat
    • Humidity
    • Mold
    • Pests
    • Pollution
    • Adhesives
  • 4. Light
    • Embrittles paper fibers
    • Causes paper to bleach, dyes and inks to fade
    • All exposure to light is damaging to some extent. Not just exposure to UV light
    • Light damage is cumulative and irreversible
  • 5. Heat and Humidity
    • High temperature accelerates the chemical reactions that cause deterioration of organic materials.
    • High humidity means water retention
    • =physical damage
    • =chemical damage
    • =biological damage
    • Low humidity means loss of water
    • =chemical change in organic materials that lead to brittleness
    • Maximum Recommended temperature is 70 °F. Relative Humidity is ideally kept between 30 and 50%
  • 6. Pests
    • Attracted by high moisture content in organic materials
    • Dirt and Dust helps hold water in
    • Prefer dark environments, until the endof their life when they head for windows
    • Thigmotactic = Prefer close spaces
  • 7. Adhesives and Fasteners
    • Pressure sensitive adhesives are never archival!
    • Many other adhesives are also damaging to family artifacts
  • 8.  
  • 9. Rust from paper clip Stains and residue from rubber band Tears from post-it (they also leave adhesive residue on the paper and can lift ink)
  • 10. What to Do?
    • Keep items in the conditioned living space in your home
    • House papers, books and photographs in archival boxes and folders.
    • Use molecular sieve products, if possible, in enclosures
    • Make indirect attachments, if possible – e.g., use photo corners
    • Place films in breathable containers
    • Don’t store materials directly on the floor
  • 11.
    • What does acid free really mean?
    • Why are some materials buffered and some not?
    • What is the P.A.T. test?
    • What plastics are okay?
    • Which is better to use – paper or plastic?
    • What tapes are archival?
  • 12. Acidity in Paper
    • Beginning in the 1830’s-1850’s and lasting in various forms through the 1980’s:
    • wood pulp paper begins to be widely manufactured
    • Wood pulp contains lignin, which over time becomes the acid that breaks down cellulose molecules.
    • Mechanized methods of pulping also contribute to inherent weakness (i.e., groundwood pulp produces short, weak fibers)
    • Greatly increased use of alum-rosin internal sizing also contributes to decay, as alum is acidic.
    • To complicate the equation:
    • Light, heat and moisture accelerate the effects of acid attacks on cellulose.
  • 13.  
  • 14. Acid - Free
    • Only applicable to paper products, even though you will see it listed on tape and plastics
    • Only requires that paper be neutral or alkaline at the time of manufacture
    • The components that make paper acidic over time can still be present
    • Look instead for “lignin free”
  • 15. Buffers in Paper
    • Calcium or magnesium bicarbonate introduced as an alkaline reserve in paper
    • Meant to neutralize pollutants and/ or the degradation products coming from the object
    • Usually expect about 3% reserve
    • Archival papers are typically buffered
    • Many recommend that an unbufferd paper be used for storing photographic materials, espcially negatives or architectural reproductions.
  • 16. What you can do
    • Purchase from a reputable archival supplier, be cautious about products at craft and home stores if they are not labeled “lignin-free”
    • Test materials with a pH pen (chlorophenol red indicator)
  • 17. P.A.T. Test
    • Photographic Activity Test
    • Developed by photograph preservation experts at the Image Permanence Insitute
    • Tests interaction between all components in an enclosure and a photogaphic image
    • Make sure your photographic enclosures meet this standard
  • 18. Plastics
    • “ Acid” is not a problem with plastics
    • Plasticizers, other Additives and Coatings are
    • Polyester, specifically Melinex #516, is the only plastic known to be totally archival
    • Polypropylene and Polyethylene are often used for photographic enclosures. There are some concerns about these plastics, especially as the exact nature of their manufacture is largely propritary, however they are regularly used even by conservators.
    • Chloride containing plastic should never be used – PVC
    • Beilstien test for halogens can be used on plastic to detect presence of chlorine
  • 19. Plastic
    • Best for handling
    • Holds in deterioration products
    • Conversely, keeps pollutants out
    • Generally more expensive
    Paper
    • Best for storage
    • Allows item to ‘breathe’
    • Materials still somewhat subject to effects of pollutants
    • Generally less expensive
  • 20. Preservation Strategies for Home Movies
  • 21. Preservation Strategies for Home Movies
    • Most 8 and 16mm home movies are on an acetate base. Some films may be on polyester after the mid 1970’s and increasingly in the 80’s. Polyester is stable, Acetate degrades very quickly.
    • Care well for originals – keep them at low temperature, low humidity and in breathable containers.
    • Alternately, freeze films – but make sure they are sealed in plastic (or marvelseal) over the winter when the RH is low then placed into boxes or plastic film cans.
    • Have them rewound onto archival plastic cores.
    • Reformat them to digital, or another easily accesible medium, for access.
    • Don’t consider digital or DVD copies ‘permanent’
    • Transferring onto a new film polyester base is the best method to ensure longevity.
    • Keep the originals if you reformat! Most films will lose clarity and sharpness, especially when transferred onto new film stock.
  • 22. Speaking of Which…
    • Today (October 17, 2009) is
    • Home Movie Day!!
    • www.homemovieday.com
  • 23. Preservation Strategies for Digital Files
    • File formats and storage media become obsolete rapidly.
    • In addition, storage media are inherently physically short lived
    • Save files in ‘archival’ formats, such as PDF-A, that will be readable in the future.
    • Look for non “lossy” digital file formats, like TIFF, or better, a “RAW” file equivalent to a photographic negative
    • Plan to migrate files to a new format every few years
    • Keep two copies in separate locations!
  • 24. For More Information http://delicious.com/katie_mullen/care_and_handling Links to care and handling information http://www.slideshare.net/katie_mullen View this PowerPoint online http:// www.in.gov/icpr/2785.htm Vendor information