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A Genealogist In The Archives: Preserving Our Ancestor's Military Uniform

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Preserving Our Ancestor's Military Uniform

Saturday, November 11, 2017 we honor our Military Veterans on Veteran's Day here in the United States.

As genealogists we try to document our ancestors that served in the military. That can include obtaining service records, pension records, old letters and even our ancestor's uniform. Many of us are fortunate enough to have inherited a military uniform or at least the jacket if nothing else. So, what is the best way to archive or preserve a military uniform.

WWII Uniform Donated to Houston County, TN. Archives

Surprisingly, the process of preserving a military uniform is quite easy and something any genealogist can do.

The archival materials that you will need to purchase are:

-Archival tissue paper to layer in the bottom of the archival box and to cover the uniform

-An archival box large enough to hold the military uniform

To start the archiving process, lay a piece of archival tissue paper in the archival box. It's okay if the tissue paper is larger than the box, once the uniform is in the box you can fold the excess tissue paper onto the uniform.

Next, place the uniform on the archival tissue paper in the archival box. If you have more than one piece of the uniform (pants, jacket, etc.), place the first piece in the box, then put a piece of tissue paper on that piece and then lay another piece. Making sure to have layers of archival tissue paper in-between each piece of the uniform. You do not want the uniform pieces to touch but have a layer of tissue paper protecting each piece.

Tissue paper in military jacket. Houston County, TN. Archives

Finally, lay a piece of archival tissue paper on the top of the last uniform piece. If there is excess room in the box and the uniform is moving around in the box, crumple up archival tissue paper and place it around the uniform to make sure the uniform fits snuggly in the box and doesn't move. Do not stuff the box so much that you are crowding the uniform in the box and creasing the uniform. The uniform needs to be flat and not creased as it sits in the box.

Be sure to write up information about the uniform such as what war, who it belonged to and how you received it. Place this information in the box with the uniform. Maybe include a photograph of the person wearing the uniform if you have one.

Store the boxed uniform in a cool, dark and dry place. Do not store in an attic, basement or where it will come in contact with direct sunlight and humidity.

Preserving our ancestor's military history is important and making sure their uniforms are stored properly is also important.




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  1. I have my father's Boy Scout sash (from the 1920s) with many merit badges sewn on. I would like to frame it and hang it in my house. Because it is such a strong diagonal, I am not sure how to frame it to look attractive. Alos, there is one merit badge that is only attached with a safety pin -- no one ever got around to sewing it on. I think I should sew it on now and get rid of the safety pin. How should I go about displaying this old sash?

    1. Carole, what a treasure you have! I would suggest that you take it to a frame shop or Hobby Lobby and ask them to frame it archivally. They will use acid free board and non-glare glass. The big thing to remember is to not display it in direct sunlight because the sun will damage the item. I agree that you should sew on the patch and get rid of the safety pin. Thank You for reading my blog!

  2. I have uniforms from WWI (my grandfather's including his hat) and WWII (my dad's and uncle's). I definitely need to get those preserved better - thanks for the instructions!

  3. Debi, check with your local historical society and see if they are doing a WWI centennial exhibit. Perhaps they could put it on display for the event. What a way to honor your grandfather. I have my husband's hat. I don't know what happened to the rest of his uniform.