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A Genealogist In The Archives: Preserving Our Ancestor's Military Medals and Ribbons

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Preserving Our Ancestor's Military Medals and Ribbons

Many of us have military veterans in our families. As we celebrate them on Veterans Day, Monday, November 11th, we should remember them and honor them each and every day throughout the year.

Military medals and ribbons that our ancestor's received during their service may be part of our genealogical records and artifacts. Do you know how to store and preserve them?

Example of Military Medals

The process of preserving military medals and ribbons is quite simple. The materials you will need are:

Take each medal and each ribbon and wrap each one carefully in a piece of archival tissue paper. Then lay the tissue covered medal or ribbon in the archival storage box. Putting more than one medal or ribbon in the box is perfectly okay, just don't stack them on top of each other. To make sure they don't move around in the box, crumple up more archival tissue paper and put around the medals and ribbons. It's that simple!

It would also be a good idea to include a typed or handwritten description of who the medals belonged to, information about their service, what type of medals they are and why they were awarded. 

You may want to display the military medals and ribbons in frames or shadow boxes. Displaying them in this manner is perfectly fine. My only caution would be to keep the framed medals and ribbons out of the sunlight, especially the ribbons as they could fade if exposed to sunlight.

Example of Military Medal Display in a Shadow Box

So, as we Remember and Honor Our Veterans, let's also take time to preserve their medals and ribbons.



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  1. I keep my Dad's medals in the original presentation cases. For the ones I don't have the cases for I have purchased replacement cases. The presentation cases are stored in a large archival box along with other archival boxes that contain uniform name plates, insignia, patches, buttons from his uniforms, and the cap device from his uniform cap.

    1. Ann, you are doing a wonderful job of preserving your Dad's military memorabilia. Sounds like you have some true treasures. Thank You for reading my blog.

  2. Can you clean the ribbon medals that have become dirty?

    1. Yes you can. I would suggest that you use a soft cloth and plain water. If that doesn't get the dirt off, use a very small amount of liquid soap but be sure to wipe off the soap completely. Hope this helps. Thank You for reading my blog!

  3. I wish I had some military medals to preserve, but I love all your tips and tricks for preserving family keepsakes.

    1. Thank You Linda! I always appreciate your support!