"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed Taylor Daily Press - 9 Dec 1999

More Photographs and your Research

In response to last week’s article on “Photographs and your Research,” I received a letter from L. C. Walker of Austin, Texas. He asked some interesting questions regarding this topic and I want to share them with you.

Mr. Walker wrote, “You spoke of writings on the back of photographs but could your please suggest the proper pen or pencil to use. I also need to know if there is a proper way to remove glued photographs from scrapbooks? Once I get my photographs identified what suggestions do you have for storing them? I don't know if I should put them in my family file, use a photo book or store them again. I really appreciate your articles, as I never thought about leaving some history for my grand kids. Now I'm starting to began a collection of photographs and other articles from my family.”

There are several pens that are "acid free" and will not harm your photographs. I personally use a “Pigma Acid-free Pen” which can be ordered from Demco at telephone: 1-800-462-8709. The ink pigment in regular pens will fade or can damage photographs.

You can check with any photograph supply companies for acid free archival photograph storage sheets and acid-free pens. In the Houston area, I would suggest: Houston Camera Exchange, Southwestern Camera, or Texas Art Supply. (In the Yellow Pages, check under: Photographic Equipment & Supplies)

By using archival quality/acid-free plastic sheets, you will provide long lasting protection for your photographs. These sheets do not contain plasticizers, solvents or residual catalysts, which can damage your photographs, slides or negatives.

One of the best products that I have personally found on the market is “Print File Archival Preservers.” If you cannot find the product in your community, you can e-mail: support@printfile.com or visit their website at: http://www.printfile.com, the mailing address is: P. O. Box 607638, Orlando, FL 32860-7638 or telephone: (407) 886-3100. They will send you a brochure on their complete product line.

Another product I find useful are the “Avery Horizontal Photo Pages” which you can buy at Office Max or any other office supply store. If you cannot find the product, you can e-mail: productinfo@averydennison.com, or telephone: 1-800-GO-AVERY (1-800-42-8379).

I generally only put one photograph per slot. You can put them back-to-back but paper is an acid conductor so the backs of the photos would be working against one other especially if there is glue residue on the backsides. Also, if there is writing on backside of photograph, putting them back-to-back will prevent you from reading the information. Therefore, you would have to continually handle the photographs each time you wanted to read the information on the backsides.

As for advice on removing glued photos, I would like to ask what type of paper, black paper, those press in/self-sticking albums. Generally, I work with one side of a page at a time. I have tackled a number of these albums and I always lay a thick towel down on the working surface and cover it with a soft cotton dishtowel so edges of photographs do not catch on threads of towel. If it is on black scrapbook paper, I try and separate each photo individual before cleaning up the photograph. That is I tear the paper leaving each photo by itself. It is difficult if photographs are back-to-back. You must be very gentle. You will not be able to get all the glue off, just try and get as much of the black or scrapbook paper off.

If the photographs are in those self-sticking glue albums with clear plastic sheet overlays, RUN not WALK to fix this problem. This is the worst possible environment for your photographs.

Also, do not forget your slides and negatives. The old cardboard boxes that slides came in are nice for storage but are NOT acid-free and are ruining the slides which are really negatives with frames. Also, the paper envelopes that your negatives were returned in after developing are not acid-free and they too should be placed in archival plastic storage sheets.

All of the archival plastic sheets I have mentioned will fit into 3-ring binders. Be sure and get EXTRA WIDE binders at the office supply, not the regular paper size binders which will be too short and will not protect the outside edges of the photographs. The extra wide binders come in a variety of colors and are 1-inch and 2-inch thick in size. The extra wide 3-ring binders are specifically made for use for plastic sheet storage.

I hope this information will help answer your questions, Mr. Walker. Please feel free to write me if you need any more help or information. I admire your wanting to save your photos for your grandchildren.

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/2670/ COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 6 Dec and was last revised on 10 Jan 2000

Copyright © 1999 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604