Preservation

Displaying Family Papers and Photographs

Limiting Light Exposure

Exposure to all light (visible and ultraviolet) can cause fading, darkening, and other changes. The best protection from light is to display copies of the originals and keep the originals in a box. Color scans and color photocopies can make good quality copies for display.

These drawings were displayed with the pink paper overlapping the white paper. Light faded the purple marker except where it was covered by the other drawing.

These drawings were displayed with the pink paper overlapping the white paper Light faded the purple marker except where it was covered by the other drawing
These drawings were displayed with the pink paper overlapping the white paper Light faded the purple marker except where it was covered by the other drawing

 

If you display the original items:

  • Use ultraviolet filtering glass or acrylic in the frame.
  • Avoid daylight and fluorescent lighting because they contain a higher proportion of ultraviolet light, which is more damaging than visible light.
  • Limit the amount of time and the intensity of light the document is exposed to by using lower intensity lights, turning lights off when not needed, and placing shades on the windows to block sunlight.

Matting and framing

Use mat board that:

  • Is made from cotton rag or 100% chemically purified pulp
  • Is buffered or pH-neutral/acid-free
  • Has passed the Photographic Activity Test (PAT) if framing photographs

Use a window mat or spacers, so the glass or acrylic is not touching the surface of the original.

Hinge the original to the backing mat using one of these safe methods:

  • Japanese paper hinges adhered with wheat starch paste or methyl cellulose
  • Corners of paper or inert plastic film that hold the original in place without adhesive

Glazing

  • Use either glass or acrylic. Acrylic can generate static electricity and should be avoided for pastels and other powdery or flaking media.
  • Select glazing with ultraviolet filtering if the item will be displayed in a room with sunlight or fluorescent lighting.

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