If precious family artifacts are starting to decay, explore these ways to preserve your family’s heirlooms to save them for the next generation.
Photos and Documents
The most common item that families will try to preserve is their photos. Families can have pictures that date back generations, and you will need to attentively care for them if you want them to last another generation. If you have any photos or historical documents stored in a standard cardboard box, you should first move them into acid-free boxes. Also, archival boxes are less likely to attract bugs that could erode a photo than cardboard.
If you need to clean pages, you can wipe them with a cloth to remove surface grime, but you should trust a specialist for extensive restorations. If you are especially worried about a photo’s condition, you should photocopy it immediately to save the image digitally.
You can wrap the document in acid-free paper or place it in a plastic protective sleeve for an added layer of protection. A standard sleeve will be partially effective, but you should use an archival quality protector to save a vintage photo properly. Also, avoid placing anything near a newspaper because their pages contain acid.
You can easily store jewelry by wrapping it in a 100 percent cotton cloth bag. From there, you can keep it in a jewelry box or other storage container. Since you can clean the metal of jewelry, your biggest concern is preserving the integrity of a piece. If a clasp or link needs replacement, that could dramatically decrease the value of the jewelry. It’s also crucial that you service your watches regularly, so the gears keep working.
Some articles of clothing never get donated, like a wedding dress, first communion dress, baby clothes, graduation cap and gown, and the list continues. To preserve these textiles, you need to protect the clothes from pesky moths. Moths can detect body oils and dead skin on clothes, so you first need to clean them thoroughly before storing them. Some cleaners will offer this service and return your garment already sealed in an archival bag. However, if you choose to do it yourself, you should store it in an archival box or bag after cleaning the item.
Preserving the Story
The things you choose to save will tell a story of your family and its history. You should preserve this story, so with every item that you save, make sure to leave a note with its story. That way, future generations can understand the context of where they came from and read the story for years. Just make sure to use a number #2 pencil because the lead will preserve much better than a pen.
With these ways to preserve your family’s heirlooms, you can save the memories precious to you for years to come.
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