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Picturing the family
Picturing the family

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1 How to avoid damage when handling photographs

Remember to treat your photographs with the consideration demanded by their age and fragility. Careless handling and storage will cause damage.

  • Handle photographs at the edges: the skin carries chemicals which cause deterioration (professional archivists wear cotton gloves).
  • Hold a photograph in both hands or support an unmounted print with a piece of cardboard to avoid unnecessary handling.
  • Never write on a photograph with anything other than a soft lead pencil (2B or 3B recommended). It is good practice to write a unique identity number on the back of a print and then make notes separately on paper.
  • Never do anything to a photograph that cannot be undone without causing damage. Store photographs in a dark, dry, cool place.

The Bibliography section at the end of this free course contains books that provide more detailed information on the handling, storage and conservation of photographs.