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Do's and don'ts of scrapbook preservation

Craig Holyoak, Deseret Morning News


• Use only acid-free and/or alkaline buffered (archival) folders, scrapbooks, pages and envelopes.

• Use a pH testing pen to test acidity in existing and new storage materials.

• If possible, remove all pins, staples, paper clips, rubber bands and other damaging fasteners.

• Mount documents and photos with acid-free mounting corners or use a water-soluble adhesive (sparingly).

• Photocopy clippings on archival copy paper. Making archival copies of all important documents and storing them in a separate and safe location is a good idea in case of disaster and reduces damage to the original from handling.

• Place fragile documents in transparent polyester sleeves (Mylar D is one trade name).

• Photographs require special handling. Important photographs should be copied in a professional lab in black and white. Request a copy negative as well as a print. Color prints and Polaroids will fade within a few years.

• Use only polyester, polypropylene or polyethylene for enclosures for photographs. These plastics are inert and will not interact with the emulsions.

• Use archival photo albums. These contain heavyweight acid-free paper; use archival photo corners.

• Wrap oversize albums and overstuffed scrapbooks in acid-free tissue and store flat.


• Use pressure-sensitive adhesives (tape), rubber cement, white glues, metal clips, pins, rubber bands or staples.

• Write on a document or the emulsion side of a photograph with magic marker or ball-point pens.

• Use "magnetic" albums or any polyvinyl chloride plastic sleeves.

• Let dirt, dust, sunlight and water in the storage environment.

• Combine too many different materials in one volume, such as newspaper clippings, photographs, printer matter and ephemera (flowers, ribbons, locks of hair, etc.). All of these items in one volume can cause damage to each other and strain the hinges of the scrapbook.

Source: Colorado Preservation Alliance