This question (and answer) is reproduced here for the benefit of all… this is a very common situation that appeals to the heart of family history.
Thank you for the photo archival information that you sent to me as the Preservation Tips that I signed up for on www.saveyourstuffblog.com. It’s been very useful.
I put the info in your book to use recently. I found a ton of photos of my parents from the 1940s on… A lot of photos of my dad’s from WW2. I quickly put them in photo albums to protect them per your recommendation. I, also, found a scrapbook of my Mother’s from the 40s that’s falling apart. She wrote names on the paper pages so I need to retain those mounting pages, but they are disintegrating. The photos are attached with those corner triangular shaped things that the photos slide into. Any ideas?
Park and Rec Dept. (Care of Public Art Work)
City of Dallas, TX
Congratulations of taking action! There are two things you can/should do:
1. Scan or take high-resolution photos of the original pages and have them printed onto acid free paper with a laser printer. This will make an archival copy. You can have the pages bound or you can put them into page protectors into a notebook of your choice. See other blog posts that talk about these ideas. But of course, this does nothing to protect the originals. I’m in the middle of this process myself, right now, on a photo album about my Dad.
2. The original mounting paper onto which the photos are connected can be deacidified with a product called “Bookkeeper” which can be sprayed. This does nothing to restore strength to the old paper, but it does keep it from getting worse. Usually, a photo conservator will tell you NOT to spray the original photos because the chemicals interact with the materials in the black and white photos. But I like to give the reverse side a light spray anyway (don’t soak the paper). Finally, you can find page protectors for the entire original page and remount them into a new notebook.
Suggestions for materials to use can be browsed at University Products and Light Impressions (Google the sites).
Let me know how it goes!