What You Need to Know About Preserving Historical Documents

November 22, 2016 4:01 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Have you recently come across some old documents and photos you’d like to keep so that you and future generations of your family can continue to learn more about your family’s history? Or maybe you have some old films or books you’d like to preserve.

Keep reading for some tips for preserving these valuable and meaningful historical items. Then, if you’d like to look into digitizing documents services, contact our expert team at Microfilm Equipment & Supplies, Inc. We have all of the equipment needed to create digital uploads of any historical document or item you may have.


  • Do make sure you are sitting in a dry, clean space and have thoroughly cleaned and dried your hands when preparing to read historical documents or look at old photos. Do not use hand lotion after washing your hands and before touching documents or photos, as the oils could damage these materials.
  • Do take care when turning pages. If a page is difficult to turn, don’t force it or fold it back in the opposite direction.
  • Do be sure that you have removed all staples, rubber bands and paper clips before placing your documents or photos in storage.
  • Do store your historical items and materials at a temperature of less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit and in an environment with low humidity to aid in preservation.
  • Do cover materials or store them when not in use to keep them away from light. You can use a plastic storage box that contains a lid. The lid should be nearly airtight. Using acid-free card stock and acid-free tape, line the box.
  • Do wear gloves when handling photos and negatives. Fingerprints may cause irreversible stains. However, gloves are not needed when handling paper because clean hands that are free of lotions or creams will not cause stains, and gloves may make handling fragile papers more challenging.
  • Don’t:

    • Don’t drink, eat or smoke around historical documents or photos, or you may risk staining or damaging these meaningful items.
    • Don’t apply chemical treatments designed to protect historical documents from age and damage. Amateurs and hobbyists typically don’t have the skills and expertise needed to use these treatments correctly, so you risk causing damage to your historical documents or photos. Instead, follow the guidelines outlined earlier in this post for suggested storage.
    • Don’t place tape or adhesive substances on historical documents. You want to ensure they remain in their original condition to the greatest extent possible.
    • Don’t use regular printer paper to save your photos, as this can result in fading. Acid-free (or archival) paper will ensure that fading does not occur.
    • Don’t store documents in the attic, basement or uninsulated garage, as these spaces tend to be subject to changes in temperature and may also be susceptible to water damage

    Now that you understand more about how to preserve your and your family’s historical documents and materials, you might want to consider having access to these items in digital form. The team at Microfilm Equipment and Supplies, Inc. offers high-quality digitizing documents services that will allow you to maintain digital versions of your family’s most important memories and records. Contact us today to learn more!

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