In May I wrote a columnÂ on photo albums to answer some of the questions posed in a previous article. The response to both of those has been a little overwhelming. There were so many questions about family photo albums that I barely know where to begin. Iâ€™ll start by addressing specific queries that appeared in the comments section of the blog.
Removing Photos from Magnetic Albums
Several folks wrote about using hair dryers to soften the glue on those magnetic (actually glue) pages. While initially that appears to be a good solution, letâ€™s think about it. The golden rule of caring for photos is not to do anything to an image that canâ€™t be undone. Resin-coated photos from the latter half of the twentieth century have surfaces that soften with heat, so by using a hair dryer youâ€™re actually damaging the print. The hot air will soften the surface (or burn it if the setting is too high) then when the heat is removed the surface will once again return to its regular state. Also as soon as the glue begins to melt you start to remove the photo from the album and end up handling the heat softened surface of the print. The two solutions I mentioned–using a microspatula or dental floss–donâ€™t involve changing the chemical properties of a print and are less likely to damage your pictures.
Scrapbook enthusiasts are very fond of a product called Un-Du for removing adhesive from the back of photos. However I think that some caution should be used. I realize this is going to be an unpopular piece of advice. Un-Du does a wonderful job of removing glue, but it is a chemical solvent. I wouldnâ€™t use it on any heritage photos with a porous surface (e.g., a cardboard back). One of the ingredients in Un-Du is heptane–a solvent. If you are going to remove resin-coated photos from magnetic albums, use it sparingly. Itâ€™s not my first choice, but you can write in and convince me that itâ€™s safe.
One reader wondered why I recommended scanning all photos as TIFFs and not JPEGs. A TIFF is an uncompressed digital file which means you havenâ€™t lost any of the digital data. Your photos will look like the original. If you want to edit your photos or resize them later, then TIFF is the format you want to use. Sure, JPEGs are great for sharing but itâ€™s not considered an â€œarchivalâ€ format.
Electronic storage solutions are only good for as long as the technology stays available. Use an external hard drive to back up your digital pictures, but also consider printing out special images using a dedicated photo printer with long-lasting inks and archival paper. All the major manufacturers now have products on the market that fit these criteria. You can read about product testing and recommendations on the Wilhelm Imaging Research website.
Several of the comments/questions require a column of their own. So watch for more updates in the future and keep posting your questions in the Comments section. Youâ€™ve given me great ideas for new articles. Thank you!
You can buy Maureenâ€™s latest book Capturing Memories: Your Family History in Photographs in the Ancestry Store.