How to Preserve Family Photos

Young-Thomas-Mary-Robert-Clara-sm2Family photos are the entry point into family history for many people. Keeping them safe is so important! I sat down and talked with Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, for her tips on how to preserve family photos.

Note: if the video doesn’t play in the post, you can view it on YouTube.

How to Preserve Family Photos – Highlights:

  • Keep your photos out of the elements, so that they don’t curl, fade, or crack.
  • Use photos sleeves the same size as the photo.
  • Look for archival plastic, marked as PAT. Mylar and polyester are also safe.
  • 100% rag paper can also be used as a photo sleeve.
  • Why a soft pencil and a light touch are all you need to label photos.
  • The best way to display a photo is to not display it. (Watch for Denise’s safe way to do it.)
  • Why you may or may not want to take a photo out of the holder from the photography studio – and how you can keep the photo safe in either case.

Resources Mentioned:

(Note: the links to Denise’s book are Amazon affiliate links, meaning that Amazon pays me a little bit when someone purchases through those.)

How to Preserve Family Photos

Posted: April 25, 2016.

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  • Thank you for sharing this Amy. I have been trying to decide which of Denise’s books to purchase since your last interview with her. I have inherited thousands of photos in about 15 large boxes. It’s a wonderful but super overwhelming amount of work and I just haven’t been able to chart a clear course. This interview had great tips and it helped me decide which book I want to buy. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and share it!

  • Amy I love ALL the information you share here and I just hope I can remember it and put it to use in my multiple family searches! I have read and re read them and I’m amazed how knowledgeable you are in genealogy!! I only wish I learn a fraction of what you know!! I do get overwhelmed trying to decide if this person is who I think he is?? There are so many variables in making that decision aren’t there?? Hmmm hopefully with your help I’ll get to the correct people! Thanks so much Amy!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Sheila! It means a lot to me that you find my posts, etc. helpful. And you’re right — there can be a lot to think about when you’re trying to figure out if someone really is your ancestor — but that can be part of the fun 🙂

  • Have you heard of It’s the way I choose to save my photos for future generations. So simple, all in one place, full privacy guaranteed, and storage is owned, not rented, and can be passed on to future generations.

    • Yes, I have heard of Digitization is something we definitely need to keep in mind as part of our preservation strategy.