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Preserving Family Papers

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A Powerpoint for those interested in genealogy and family history - a "how to" get started and what to do and what to avoid to ensure the longevity and ease of access to your treasured heritage!

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Preserving Family Papers

  1. 1. Preserving Your Family Papers Heidi Bamford, Regional Archivist Documentary Heritage Program October 24, 2013 1
  2. 2. Collecting & Saving Family History • A “family story” is more than just dates and names o There are personal and professional interactions being documented o There are “older” and “newer” stories to be preserved o The stories may be of interest to people other than your own family! 2
  3. 3. First Steps: 3 Have a Plan! Set aside specific times, spaces, and materials for sorting through collections Table, gloves, notebooks, folders or envelopes, boxes, pencils Begin at the Beginning – Look at family history. Start with most recent materials and work backwards
  4. 4. Create an Inventory 4 • Helps with: o Locating items and information o Cutting down on handling fragile or sensitive materials o Assessing time and resources needed to address organization and preservation activities o Knowing what gaps are in your stories o “Weeding” o Getting Organized!
  5. 5. What to Keep? Unique Informational 5 • Certificates • Deeds, Wills • Awards, Citations • Memorabilia • Creative works (poems, sketches) • Membership records • Correspondence • Diaries and journals • Scrapbooks • News clippings and newsletters • Photos & slides • Audio, video, CD, DVD • Oral histories
  6. 6. What to Keep? Also must consider: Volume Age Condition Authority Propriety Uniqueness Informational 6
  7. 7. Organizing Your Collection • Resist the Urge to “Reorganize” the Stories! o Remember, history, including family history is organic – it develops as a result of day-to-day actions and interactions • Use archival principles of: • PROVENANCE – Keep records of each creator together o Group by creator • Divide into distinct “series” • RESPECT DU FONDS – Keep records arranged the way the creator arranged them o Organize following lead of creator 7 *For each grouping, you can store & preserve similar types of materials, Rather than storing all diaries together, all newspapers, etc.
  8. 8. Finding the Right Storage Space • IDEALLY: o A room or part of a room not in the attic or basement o A stable temperature of 65-70 degrees F and, relative humidity of 40% o Minimal light source  The invisible enemies: pests, dust/dirt, pollutants  Watch your step – avoid carpeting or linoleum  Be sure to regularly monitor the space! 6/17/2014 8
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  10. 10. Storage Supplies – First Tier • Shelving – for most materials, this should be open steel shelving o Enamel-coated is best o Lowest unit at least 4-6 inches from floor; highest unit at least 10-12 inches from ceiling – avoid pipes! o Alternatives – paper or board-lined wood shelving for short term • Cabinets or cases – should be steel o Same positioning as with shelving (floor to ceiling) o Do not over or under-fill drawers! 10
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  12. 12. Storage Supplies – Second Tier • Boxes – Manufactured or custom made for support & protection • Folders and Envelopes- for instability or fragility • Sleeves – for fragile, single or acidic items 12
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  14. 14. Storage Supplies - Documents • Use vertical storage boxes for stronger, standard size papers and horizontal storage boxes for fragile, oversize materials o Use rolled storage when items are too large for flat storage • Boxes should be strong, have reinforced corners and match size of materials o too small will cause mechanical damage from stuffing; o too large will cause mechanical damage from sliding around or drooping. 14
  15. 15. Storage Supplies – Books and Bound Materials • Parts of the book to be protected: o Text block o Boards o Spine o Flyleaf o Hinge o Head/cap o Tail 6/17/2014 15 • Enclosures: o Pre-made clamshell boxes o Custom size book boxes o Tying or wrapping o Polyester book jackets
  16. 16. Storage Supplies – Photos & Negatives • Three basic parts of structure include: o support layer (metal, glass, paper, plastic), o image layer (silver, platinum, dyes, iron) and o binder (gelatin, albumen, collodion) 16 • All photo storage materials should pass PAT test* • Use plastic** enclosures for frequent viewing – unless flaking occurs • Use paper for interleaving if multiple prints are in folders or boxes • Negatives go in paper enclosures • Archival binders are acceptable for prints
  17. 17. Storage Supplies - Other • Textiles • Ephemera • Small Objects • Works of Art • Digital o NPS Conserv-O-Grams 17 • Types of Damage o Chemical (all organic materials: paper, textiles, plastics, dyes, leather, fur, etc) • Chemical change attributed to location o Mechanical (Rare books, paintings, furniture, textiles; any bound or composite object) • Temp/humidity • handling o Mold decay (All organic materials (paper, textiles, plastics, dyes, leather, fur) or inorganic materials with organic films) • moisture o Metal corrosion • moisture
  18. 18. What If…. • What if you can’t provide this kind of storage environment for your collection? o Consider donating your family history collection to a local repository • Selecting a repository • Creating a Deed of Gift • Supporting your gift with an endowment 18
  19. 19. Donor Deed of Gift Form Usually includes: • Name of donor • Name of recipient • Date of transfer • Brief description of materials • Transfer of physical/intellectual rights • Restrictions – legal, personal; length of time • Disposal criteria/authority • Signatures of donor/recipient – witness o See sample deed of gift forms o http://www.archivists.org/publications/deed_of_gift.asp 19
  20. 20. RESOURCES Where to go for more help: • Archival Supply Vendors (New York State Archives) • Gaylord online catalog • Conservation Online • Conserve-O-Grams from NPS • North East Documentation Conservation Center 20
  21. 21. That’s It! Any Questions? Good Luck! Thank you! hbamford@wnylrc.org 21

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