We all have them. The random box of old family photos stored in a plastic tote or cardboard box that gets pulled out occasionally, looked at, and then put back in the closet. Can you look at the box of photos and know exactly what is there? Are the photos going to be in the same condition or worse the next time you open the box? For a family historian, it can be a treasure and a nightmare. That is why today, in the spirit of spring cleaning, we are going to talk about what to do with boxes of family photos.
What is the Best Way to Store Old Photographs
Storing your old family photos with them piled in an old cardboard box is probably not the best storage idea. Over time, photos can become bent and broken, stick together, or become moldy if humidity levels are to high.
According to the National Archives, the best way to store old photographs is in a climate that is less than 75 degrees Fahrenheit and less than 65% humidity. Lower temperatures slow the rate that the photo chemicals decay, and can limit insect activity. But keep in mind you don’t want your humidity too low. Humidity lower than 15% can cause your photos to become brittle, causing them to crack and break more easily.
Once you have your photos boxed, you want to store them in a safe place away from water or moisture, away from things like food that can attract insects, places that are too warm, and places that can flood.
Photo Albums for Old Photographs
Photo albums are a great way to store old photographs, especially if they will be viewed often. The most important thing to remember when storing photos in an album, is not to attach the photos to the album pages using glue or adhesive. Glues and adhesives such as tape can cause discoloration and damage to your photos.
You can also use albums that have no film coverings or sleeves, but use paper corner tabs to hold the photos in place.
Are Old Photographs Worth Anything?
Have you ever heard the phrase, One man’s trash is another man’s treasure? There are people who will buy old photographs for projects like crafts or to use as stock photos, however you probably won’t make a fortune from the sale unless the subject of your photo was someone famous or something of historical value. If you are interested in selling your old photos, Ebay has a whole section of old photos for sale that will at least give you an idea of the prices old photos are selling for.
Where to Donate Old Photographs
Donating your old photographs is a great way to clean out your photos without feeling like you have betrayed your family. If your photos are based around a specific location or family, check with that location’s historical society, genealogical society, or local library to ask the best way to donate the images.
If you are still insure where to donate your old family photographs, The Society of American Archivists can help you find the right organization to donate to.
The Legal Stuff
Please keep in mind that when you click our links and make purchases, we may receive a small commissions. This does not impact our reviews and comparisons as I try my best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.