Posted by Amy Johnson Crow on May 1, 2014 in Events
How do you keep these papers safe so you can pass them on?
How do you keep these papers safe so you can pass them on?

This week is Preservation Week, sponsored by the American Library Association. ALA began Preservation Week in 2010 to help libraries and other institutions learn more about caring for unique items. It’s one thing if a copy of a best seller falls apart; you can likely get a replacement. But if that photograph of a Civil War soldier gets destroyed, it’s not like you can go out and take another photo of him.

Preservation Week spotlights not only things that libraries and archives can do, but also what all of us can do as individuals. ALA estimates that there are 630 million items in various institutions that require immediate attention and care. Imagine how many millions more are in homes (and barns and sheds and… ).

The theme for this year’s Preservation Week is “Pass It On.” How appropriate for us family historians!

Some Basic Tips

With paper, less is more. Less handling. Less light. Less heat. Less humidity. You know Grandma’s keepsake box filled with letters that you have down in the basement? Not a good place for them. Not only is the humidity too high, but think about what happens in basements: flooding. Get them out of the basement and into a closet.

What about those photographs that we treasure? Same principles apply. Instead of hanging an original photograph, consider hanging a copy of it. Keep the original safe somewhere dark.


Here are some resources to help guide you as you preserve your own treasures so you can pass them on:

Preservation Week

American Library Association:

Library of Congress:

National Archives and Records Administration:

Tomorrow, guest blogger Nancy Kraft will tell us about dealing with a tricky preservation problem: mold. It’s a dirty subject, but one we all need to pay attention to.



Amy Johnson Crow

Amy Johnson Crow is a Certified Genealogist and an active lecturer and author. Her roots run deep in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states. She earned her Masters degree in Library and Information Science at Kent State University. Amy loves to help people discover the joys of learning about their ancestors and she thinks that there are few things better than a day in a cemetery. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Amy Johnson Crow.