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A Genealogist In The Archives: Preserving Your Veterans Medals and Ribbons

Friday, November 11, 2016

Preserving Your Veterans Medals and Ribbons

Today, November 11, 2016, is Veteran's Day. On this day the United States celebrates all our veterans that have served in the United States Armed Forces.

Many of us have military veterans in our families. As we celebrate them on this special day, we should remember them and celebrate 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 archiving military medals and ribbons is quite simple. The materials you will need are:

  • Archival Tissue Paper
  • Archival Box

Archival Tissue Paper and Archival Storage Box

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. 

Many like to display 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, on this day that we Remember Our Veterans, let's also take time to preserve their medals and ribbons.



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  1. Thanks for this post. I have a question - If the medals or awards are wrapped in tissue why should they not be stacked if you have a 2" deep box and a barrier layer of tissue between the two?

    1. The reason we don't stack such items in an archive setting is so that if the metals, which could have sharp edges, works a whole in the tissue paper and makes contact with other medals don't scratch them. Also, it is just understood with most archives that you just don't stack anything on top of anything, we always store everything flat.

    2. Thanks. That make sense. Did not think about the wearing of the tissue.

  2. Thanks Melissa. I hope to obtain some medals that would have been issued to a few of my family members. I think I would like to display them.

    1. I am so excited for you Diane. Displaying them will work just fine, just remember to keep them out of the direct sun and make sure they are secured well in the case. I would love to see a photo of your display when you get it done!

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