Preservation

Should I digitize my photo collection? Is it safe to throw away my original film and prints after I digitize them?

You may want to digitize your photographs because it offers safe and easy access to the images in your collection. Once your photographs have been scanned, you can view them in electronic form and even make hard copies without risking damage to the originals. Do not throw away your original film and prints after you digitize them. Digitized images are not considered a replacement for originals. Data (i.e. your images) can be lost when the storage media deteriorates; and software and hardware technology become rapidly obsolete, in some cases making retrieval of the images difficult if not impossible. Information is available elsewhere on our site answering the following questions:

How should I store my photographic prints?

How should I store negatives and transparencies?

If you are an archivist, curator, or custodian of a large photographic collection and are considering digitization, you may want to review the answer to the following question:

Does NARA have any guidelines for digitizing archival materials for web access?

Preservation >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

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