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A Genealogist In The Archives: Storing 3-Ring Binders to Protect Genealogical Records

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Storing 3-Ring Binders to Protect Genealogical Records

One aspect of organizing that I would like to address is how to store 3-ring binders. Now, this may seem like a very simple idea and you might be thinking "Everyone knows how to store 3-ring binders", but do you?

Family Genealogy Binders, Houston County, TN. Archives

If you use 3-ring binders to organize your genealogical records, do you store them upright on the shelf or do you lay them down on their side? Most of you will say that you store them upright because it takes up less room and that is the conventional way to store 3-ring binders.

However, the best way to store them so that the records that are contained in them do not get damaged is to store them laying on their side.

When you store 3-ring binders upright or on their end, it puts pressure on the binding and weakens the strength of that binding. Over time, those binders will become weak and will start to sag and eventually will start to break down. Also, when 3-ring binders are stored upright, the pages that are stored inside will sag. This means that if you have put your genealogy documents into these 3-ring binders, they will also sag and could get damaged by being put in this position for a prolonged period of time.

The best way to store 3-ring binders is on their side, making sure all the pages are laying flat and not folded or bent in anyway.

Storing 3-ring binders in this manner will take up more room but in the long run it will keep your family genealogical records safe.



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  1. I have 3 ring binders in sleeves. Should I still store them on their sides?

    1. I would say so, especially if you notice the documents are sagging. Thank You for reading my blog!

  2. Might I also suggest storing the pages in your binders within archive safe page protectors.

    ...tim west...
    Scott County, Tennessee Coordinator for the TNGenWeb Project

    1. You are absolutely right Tim! We should always use archival sleeves to put our documents into. Thanks for reading my blog!

  3. Melissa, I have over 16 genealogy binders all stored upright, much like those in the photo. Sigh. But what you wrote makes sense. I'll be looking at a way to make more space to store them on their sides. Thanks for the suggestion!

    1. Brenda, you sound like you have been working hard on your genealogy, 16 binders! Wow! Thank You for reading my blog!

    2. Someone found many documents, letters in envelopes, receipts, a last will and testament, etc. in a box in a old wooden buggy house most of which were dated between 1915-1918 in amazing condition. Are acid-free sheet protectors made with sections like 4x6 or 5x7. I am not sure how to store the envelopes with the letters. The letters are on narrow note-book paper and are written on the front and back in pencil. There are many receipts for things like land payments or payments for hogs, mules, hats, etc. The letters were correspondence between a mother and sisters with their two brothers who were stationed in France in WWi and in a military hospital in Georgia. Please advise the best way to try and organize all of this information.

    3. The envelopes should be placed in the sleeve with the letters. They should not be separated. The other items such as the receipts in sleeves as well. Sounds like you have a wonderful collection of records. Thank You for reading my blog.