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Preserving Family Photos and Memorabilia: Photo Albums/ Scrapbooks

Some tips and links to preserving your family's history while at home

Photo Albums

The safest method to mount photographs and papers is without glue or adhesive:

1.     Use pages or envelopes that are acid free and sleeves made of stable plastics such as polyester, polypropylene or polyethylene

2.     Use corners made from acid free paper or stable plastic films such as polyester, polypropylene or polyethylene

3.     There are a variety of binding styles and types that are safe, including spiral, ring binders, post or clamp bindings, or traditional sewn bindings The album cover material can be cloth, stable plastic, or leather. Choose the look and the style of the album you like. More important than the cover material is the quality of the album pages and other materials in direct contact with the photographs and papers.

4.     Avoid overstuffing albums; don’t add too many items to the pages or too many pages to the album. This can cause damage to the pages of the album and the attached items, as well as make it difficult to use.


We don’t recommend taking a scrapbook apart, ever, because context is everything when it comes to scrapbook albums. The original arrangement of the scrapbook was important to the person who assembled it, so if you start removing items, you’re going to lose the original context.

  1. The first step is to put the individual scrapbook pages into an enclosure.
  2. If you have loose items, try to find where they were originally displayed in the scrapbook. If you can figure it out, place it there and then take a photo (print the photos out and include them within the same box as the original scrapbook). If you have many loose items and can’t figure out where certain items belong it’s best to place these within a sleeve and place at the backend of the scrapbook.
  3. Get an archival drop-front storage box that sits flat, you don’t want to store it upright on a shelf because items will drop forward. So the best thing to do is put in a flat, archival, material storage box, so everything is contained. This protects it from the light, dust, and insects.