How can I safely mount my documents, memorabilia, and photographs into albums or scrapbooks?

The method you use to assemble scrapbooks, photograph albums or memory books can enhance the preservation of the items or can cause irreversible negative effects. Mounting with the following materials should be avoided: synthetic glue (white glue), rubber cement, pressure-sensitive tapes and films, staples, or hot glue gun adhesives. These materials have poor aging qualities which can physically damage and/or discolor paper and photographs.

Albums with self-stick pages ("magnetic pages") should be avoided as well due to the adhesive used on the mounting page. There are several safe alternatives for mounting. Valuable items such as birth certificates, family letters, and photographs should be mounted without use of glue or other adhesives. Envelopes and sleeves made of stable plastics such as polyester and polypropylene can hold the materials and be used as album pages. An alternative for sleeves and envelopes are corners made from plastic films ( such as, polypropylene and polyester) or paper.

Plastic and paper corners which are to be used for photographic memorabilia should be made of a material which passes the Photographic Activity Test (PAT). The PAT was developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is a test that determines whether or not a storage material will cause fading or staining of photographs. The PAT standard is ANSI IT9.16, Photographic Activity Test. Many manufacturers test their products with the PAT and advertise storage materials which pass the PAT.

Paper corners which are to be used only with paper memorabilia need only pass the standard for permanent paper ANSI/NISO Z39.48, Permanence of Paper for Publication of Documents in Libraries and Archives. This standard specifies the characteristics of paper that is of a permanent nature and which will not harm other documents with which it is in contact.

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