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

Monday, October 7, 2019

Storing 3-Ring Binders to Protect Your Records

"31 Days of Tips from The Archive Lady"

DAY #7

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. Perfectly rational to have the binders LIE flat. Gravity and time can rip the covers right off the half-filled binder if put on the shelf like a hard-bound book. BUT what is the recommended method for indicating what is inside the binder?

    1. In my 3-ring binders I use dividers to separate subjects such as "Birth Certificates" "Marriage Certificates", etc. and on the outside of the binder I put the surname that binder covers. Hope this helps. Thanks for reading my blog.

  2. Also use sheet protectors to help keep the dust off the pages. I’ve been keeping binders for years, you can move pages if need be and you can’t with a book.

    1. Thank You Terri for your comment. Archival sleeves should be used just like you said, helps protect your records. Thank You for reading my blog!