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  1. Issues in PreservationFocus on Photos Felicia Thomas January 28, 2011 Baton Rouge, LA

  2. Why preserve? • To make records useable • To lengthen the life of the document • To maintain your legacy as an individual or institution • Digitization is not preservation!!!!!

  3. Photo Preservation – First steps • Take stock of your photo collection • Keep your photos out of the sun, away from fluctuations in temperature and humidity. • Keep them away from the basement (if you happen to have one) and out of the attic. • Have a priceless photo on display? Copy it and put the original away for safe-keeping.

  4. Next … • Once you gathered your photographs, separate the negatives from the photographs, and the color photographs from the black and white photographs. Photos of various eras and finish have different chemical emulsifiers. These chemicals often do not “get along.”

  5. Provenance • Always note the provenance (where it came from and what it is) • Do you know the names of the people and places depicted in the photo? You may be the only one!

  6. Making Notes… • To make notes on a photograph, write on it with a soft-lead pencil. • There are “photograph-safe” pens on the market, but they can sometimes bleed through the backing of older photographs. • Label digital photos, saving them with identifying information. If a digital photo is important, print it and hand label it. • FYI: always have back ups of digital photo files.

  7. Internal Vices Photographs and negatives are made up of three layers Image layer Binder layer The base (paper or polyester)

  8. Protective Storage Separate photos with a sheet of acid-free paper between each image

  9. Plastic Envelopes For photos that you need to see, use see-through envelopes made from a safe ‘plastic’ like Mylar®

  10. Good & Bad Plastics Beware plastics! Never use acetate or “PVC” Use only polyester, polypropylene, and polyethylene

  11. Protective Storage Layers Folders & Boxes

  12. What about negatives? This acetate negative, in the last stage of deterioration, shows channeling where the emulsion has separated from its base.

  13. Preservation Examine the condition of materials Remove containers and supplies that are unsafe for the storage of historic materials Promote storage conditions for the collection that will help keep it safe and in good condition

  14. Storage and Handling (pt. 1) • Photographs, like newspapers, are some of the most volatile items in your collection. They start decaying as soon as they are produced. • The number one thing you can do is to adhere to the standards for environmental control presented earlier.

  15. Storage and Handling (pt. 2) • Photographs are more technically difficult to preserve because there are more varieties and formats of photograph to identify and treat. • There are, however, some general rules of thumb.

  16. Photo Preservation Rule of Thumb - 1 • Keep photographs dry, away from light, and keep them encased in acid-free enclosures that are slightly larger than the photograph. • You should be able to easily insert and remove the photograph from the enclosure, grasping the photograph by its edges.

  17. Photo Preservation Rule of Thumb - 2 • If individual acid-free paper or acid-free plastic enclosures are cost-prohibitive, two options are available: • 1: group photographs by subject or type (all black and white photographs of a particular era together, for instance) and place them in an acid-free photograph box. • 2: If possible, place them in the box interleafed with acid-free bond paper.

  18. Photo Preservation Rule of Thumb - 3 • Touch the face of the photo or negative as little as possible. Cotton gloves are an inexpensive option. Fingerprints are forever and the oil and residue contribute to the decay of the photograph. • Pay attention to what else is touching the photograph. Is there anything causing abrasion to the photograph, even other photographs or a frame?

  19. Photo Preservation Rule of Thumb - 4 • If a photograph is stuck either to another photograph or in an album-- a very common problem, especially with sticky emulsive layers or cheap color photograph media and also on 19th century prints that have advanced decay… proceed with extreme caution. • Make copies of album pages or as much of the problem photograph as possible. • If in doubt, seek the advice of a more experienced professional (online listservs are a source of free advice!)

  20. Types of damage that can occur: • Foxing (small brown spots probably caused by mold or by the presence of tiny metal particles) • Tears, folds, and creases; dog-eared corners; abrasions; • Staining from rusted paper clips, deteriorated rubber bands, or tape • Loss of parts of the paper backing of the photograph

  21. More damage • Distortion and staining from previous water damage. • Brittleness and fragility due to acidic deterioration and light exposure; • Discoloration or darkening due to acidity and light exposure; • Staining and weakening from mold growth • Holes from insect infestation • Acid migration

  22. What to do? • If damage has occurred to your photograph, the most important thing to do is: • Make a preservation scan • Eliminate the cause of the damage if at all possible • If the damage is from light exposure, place the photograph in a box or sleeve. • The damage will not be reversed but further damage will be slowed.

  23. Questions so far?

  24. Tintypes/ Tintype Albums • This is a tintype album from c. 1870. It is falling apart and some of the tintypes are abraded. • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers} • The album itself has informational value, but may cause more damage to the photograph. What course of action might you take with this item? • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers}

  25. Stains, folds, fades… • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers}

  26. Fading, tearing, writing

  27. Severe fading • This photo is from the 1920s and shows extraordinary wear and tear from light exposure.

  28. 19teens – worries and cures • What do you think is going on with this photograph? • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers}

  29. 1920s – worries and cures • This one? • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers}

  30. Black and White photography, 1930s • Many black and white prints that have been kept in ideal conditions and they look great! • How do we keep it that way?

  31. 1940s – worries and cures • Black and white photography became wildly popular (and much more affordable) beginning in the 1930s and it continued in the 1940s. • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers}

  32. 1960s – worries and cures • Color photography becomes more common…but the quality of the chemicals and paper used varies GREATLY… • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers}

  33. 1970s – worries and cures • More and more types of color photography (various types of backing, sizes, etc.) • Some last better than others • Magnetic albums abound! • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers}

  34. 1980s Photos • Problems and Cures • Pass some around… • Color photography is cheaper and most families have piles of unidentified photographs.

  35. 1990s Photos • Problems and Cures • Show and Tell • Professional/ commercial printing improves! • More and more people take more and more photographs.

  36. 2000s Photos -- Digital • Now we have photographs by the gigabyte…what do we do with them?

  37. Scrapbooks • Preservation Challenge! • Acidic pages • Adhesives • Newsprint • Photographs • Storage

  38. Problems with albums • This scan shows a large album page. It has been torn, many photos have fallen out already. Some have been pasted back in and identified much later. More importantly, how do we attempt to preserve this? • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers}

  39. Magnetic Albums (and fading!) • This is a scan of an example of a dreaded magnetic album. • Pictures in these albums will either fall right off the album page or be so bonded to the page that you will actually be better off to leave them attached. • {University of Arkansas Special Collections Department, Vernie L. Bartlett Papers}

  40. What can you preserve? • The hard decisions • You cannot save everything • Even with cooperative projects • Priorities must be set • Every item may not need to be preserved

  41. Questions Felicia Thomas