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A Genealogist In The Archives: 5 Easy Steps to Preserving Scrapbooks

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

5 Easy Steps to Preserving Scrapbooks

Scrapbooks are a genealogist's gold mine! If you ask anyone that knows me, they will tell you that my favorite record collection to do research in and to process in the archive is Scrapbooks!

Scrapbooks are like time capsules, nobody knows what will be found in them until they are opened. There are all kinds of styles of scrapbooks from newspaper clippings, obituary, diary, sports teams, personal history and many more.

Donated Scrapbooks, Houston County, TN. Archives

Maybe you have some scrapbooks that you have inherited from family members. Are they falling apart? Are the contents falling out? Scrapbooks are usually one of those record sources that are handled a lot over time because they are so interesting.

Preserving scrapbooks is actually fairly easy and any home archivist can do it. Here are 5 easy steps:

    1. Digitize each and every page of the scrapbook. You can use a flat bed scanner or you can use your digital camera. Do not use any kind of self-feeding scanner or a hand held scanner, they can potentially damage the pages or the items pasted to the pages. Make sure to digitize the scrapbook in original order from the first page to the last page. 

      2. Purchase archival tissue paper. Get a size that is about 1/4" to 1/2" larger than the scrapbook page. You want to make sure the tissue paper covers the entire page but there is not too much excess. You can cut the tissue paper to size if needed.

        3. Interweave the tissue paper in-between each and every page of the scrapbook. The tissue paper will act as a shield to protect anything on the pages from bleeding onto or damaging the other page.

        Archival Tissue Paper Interweaved in the Scrapbook, Houston County, TN. Archives

          4. Purchase an archival box that is as close to the size of the scrapbook as possible. Put the scrapbook in the box. If there is still room in the box and the scrapbook is sliding around, crumple up archival tissue paper and tuck it around the scrapbook to secure it in place so that it doesn't move.

          Scrapbook in an Archival Box, Houston County, TN. Archives

            5. Label the box with information about the scrapbook. For instance, "World War II Scrapbook, Belonged to John Jones, 1941-1945". Store in a cool, dry and dark place. Keep away from sunlight and handle the scrapbook as least as possible. Consult with the digital images as much as possible so that damage is not done to the original scrapbook.
              These 5 easy steps to preserve scrapbooks will insure they will survive for many years to come.



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              1. This is very helpful information. I have probably 20 scrapbooks that belonged to my grandfather. He was in commercial real estate and he kept articles about projects that he worked on or sold. Once I digitize the family information, my plan is to donate the scrapbooks to the historical society in the city.

                1. Debi, I am so glad this information helped you. And Thank You for donating your scrapbooks, that is so generous of you! Thank You for reading my blog!