In response to a question submitted by a reader I wrote a column in January on saving family photo albums. Many people commented on the piece, asked questions, and talked about albums they have in their families. Thank you for sharing. Here are the answers to your queries and a few additional comments from me.
Removing Photographs from Magnetic Albums
Ginger wanted to know what to do about magnetic albums. You probably own several. I know I do. They were quite popular in the 1970s and for unknown reasons continue to be commonly available. Perhaps itâ€™s the price. These magnetic albums with their sticky pages and plastic overlays are often on sale. Pay less today but more tomorrow isnâ€™t a real adage, but it applies to these destructive albums. Once you place your pictures in a magnetic album youâ€™re in trouble. Over time the glue seeps through causing stripes of discoloration, making it almost impossible to remove images from the pages. So whatâ€™s a frustrated photo genealogist to do?
Sally, the Practical ArchivistÂ suggested using a microspatula for gently removing images from magnetic albums. These handy inexpensive devices sell for around $4.00 and are available from library suppliers like Brodart.
In a workshop I attended, a photo conservator suggested using thin unwaxed dental floss to carefully remove photos from sticky pages. But be very gentle. It is possible to tear pictures using this method. Slide the floss under the edge of the image and move it slowly to try to lift the image away from the glue.
Susan asked about scanning resolutions for older pictures and creating CDs.
I scan my pictures at 100 percent (the same size as the original), in full color (even if they are black and white) at 600 dpi, and store them as Tiff files. These are large files so instead of storing everything on my hard drive I back them up using a portable hard drive. You can use DVDs or CDs but while manufacturers are improving the stability and longevity of these discs, they donâ€™t last forever. Of course having them last 100 years isnâ€™t really an issue because we probably wonâ€™t be able to play them back by then! (If you are scanning for publishing purposes, 300 dpi JPEGs are sufficient; for the Web, 72 dpi is standard.)
Record Photo Memories
Many of you wrote about how you used photo albums to trigger memories in older relatives. Several folks reminded us to record those spontaneous photo memories or to link the pictures with the spoken captions. While currently there arenâ€™t any albums on the market that allow you to record voices and display pictures, keep watching for them. I hear they are in development.
Hereâ€™s one more tip: Newer scanners come with Digital ICE, which automatically corrects minor imperfections in a scanned image. I suggest using the professional mode rather than the automatic settings to keep the damage visible. You can always remove those scratches later using photo editing software.
Keep posting those questions in the comments section below. I want to hear your concerns about caring for family treasures.
Maureen Taylor writes about family photographs and genealogy. Her work recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Check out her photo of the monthÂ at www.photodetective.smugmug.com. Maureenâ€™s newest publication, Capturing Memories: Your Family History in Photographs is now available in the Ancestry Store.