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A Genealogist In The Archives: Archiving Genealogical Documents

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Archiving Genealogical Documents

"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #4

Archiving Genealogical Documents

Genealogists have tons of documents for their ancestors. Death Certificates, Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates and more! Many of these records are originals and need to be protected and archived.

Original Deed for Bateman School, ca. 1923, Houston County, TN. Archives

In the archives world we use the word "encapsulate" to describe what we do with documents to preserve them. The term encapsulate means: "the process of placing a document between two sheets of plastic (usually polyester), which are sealed at the edges, in order to provide support and to protect it from handling and from the atmosphere" (from Society of American Archivists Glossary of Terms

Archival Sleeve and Document, Houston County, TN. Archives

This is one of the simplest forms of records preservation that a genealogist can do. To archive or encapsulate a document, all you will need to purchase is archival or acid free document sleeves. These sleeves come in all different sizes and shapes. It is very important that the ones that are used are made of Mylar, Polypropylene or Polyester and have passed the P.A.T. (Photographic Activity Test). On the packaging it will say "Passed P.A.T.".

Make sure the document is completely flat and has no turned down corners or other folds. Slide the document in the archival sleeve. The sleeve will automatically close up around the document and will instantly seal with the help of static electricity. Once you have the document encapsulated, then place it in an archival file folder and store in the filing cabinet or with your other genealogical documents.

I highly recommend that you encapsulate all original documents in archival sleeves. This layer of protection will insure that the documents last for future generations to enjoy!



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  1. Do you have a suggestion as to where to purchase these archival sleeves?

    1. You can purchase them from any of the online archival stores such as Gaylord Archival, Light Impressions, Hollinger Metal Edge. Hope this helps. Thank You for reading my blog.

  2. Also interested in exactly what that archival sleeve is called. Thank you.

    1. They are usually called Archival Polyester L-sleeves, like these at Amazon: Thank You for reading my blog!