ARCHIVING PHOTOGRAPHS

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Photograph archiving

People wishing to donate historical documents, blueprints, letters or photos to the archive can contact schaf@west.net for guidance on storage, scanning of items for security purposes, and/or donations of items to the SBC archives. Donations and scanning allow the public to see materials that are hidden in files, shoe boxes, and scrapbooks out of sight and forgotten, while fading and deterioration slowly occur.


Important images can be digitally scanned and given back to families, and historical letters and documents can be transcribed by our docents. After scanning or transcription, this historical data can be exhibited to the public on this website, in published historical documents and newsletters and used in historical research to help preserve other cultural landmarks and sites in this area.

Most importantly, digital scanning and transcription stop the effects of time on old and deteriorating images and papers, and allow the historical information to be archivally recorded for future generations even if the original documents and photos fade or disintegrate. So whether you scan and store the images yourself, or donate them, items of historical importance should be digitized, or copied archivally.


Archival Storage Tips

Early color photos are very unstable and do not have the 75 to 150 year life-span of old black & white photos, the effects of age can already be seen on many early color prints in the form of color shifts to magenta, loss of contrast and faded blacks. Black & white photos may last longer, but they often they are older, and more valuable. The effects of age take much longer in black & white photos and are harder to see until damage is done.


Surprise, the Mid-Century is already becoming historical! If you have local photos from the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's, especially early color photos, they should be scanned or copied before they fade. To make matters worse, photo albums with magnetic pages and frames with cardboard backing from the 1920's up through the 1980's often contained acids that actually speeded up the process of deterioration. So even though our snapshots and letters may be stored in a dark place, chemical reactions with many of the storage materials to which we have entrusted our family heirlooms are advancing the effects of age. That being said, many easily-obtainable modern storage materials are of better quality and usually boast 'ACID-FREE' on the label. At the very minimum, irreplaceable photos and heirlooms should be transferred to new 'Acid Free' storage materials to slow down the aging process, and as always they should be kept in a safe, cool, dry, dark place, if possible. Remember if it doesn't say 'Acid Free' it probably isn't and you should avoid putting anything important in it.