The Archive Lady: Preserving a Vintage Post Card Book
Robin in Nevada asks “I was wondering if you could help me to find the correct container to hold a vintage post card book. My friend handed me a booklet containing vintage post cards her grandfather saved starting from 1906 to 1911. The post cards are like looking through history. Some have the writing and a post date and some are blank on the back. Such a neat piece of family history. However, the book is falling apart and I suggested she get an archival box for it. Just wondering if you have any ideas on how best to preserve the book and postcards together and or the best container?”
When I received Robin’s question and photos of the vintage postcard book, I was reminded of why I love being an archivist and genealogist. It never ceases to amaze me what each of us hold in our genealogical collections. Each and every document, photograph and artifact helps to tell the story of our family and their experiences. I am always so grateful to see others save and preserve these items for us to enjoy in the present and for generations to come to enjoy in the future.
I have written about preserving postcards before in my column on Abundant Genealogy here. Robin’s friend’s postcard book is a bit different from preserving singular postcards and I suspect there are many readers who have similar type books.
First and foremost, digitizing each and every postcard, front and back, is highly recommended. While none of us want to think of our precious genealogy records being destroyed, the fact is that every day this is happening by fire, hurricane and even by family members throwing these items in the trash. Making a digital copy of the postcards and putting those digital copies in a safe place is highly recommended. Maybe even give a digital copy to the local library, archives or historical society in the area where the postcards are from or the location they depict.
To accomplish the digitization, you can do this by putting each postcard on a flatbed scanner and digitizing it that way or you can take really good photos of each postcard. Getting them digitized is the ultimate way to preserve items such as this. If anything were to happen to the originals, you would at least have the digital images.
To preserve this postcard book, all Robin will need archival tissue paper and an archival box. For this treasure, I would suggest that Robin obtain archival tissue paper, the unbuffered kind. When purchasing archival tissue paper, there is buffered and unbuffered, since these are picture postcards, I would suggest the unbuffered kind.
Interweave the archival tissue paper between each page of the book. The reason for this is in case the book comes in contact with any moisture or humidity, the pages and the postcards won’t stick to each other with the tissue paper between the pages.
Measure the length, width and height of the entire book and purchase an archival box to fit it as best as you can. Line the archival box with archival tissue paper and lay the book in the box. Online archival materials stores have archival boxes to fit just about anything (see list of stores below). If you are using a box that is a bit larger than the book, crumple up more archival tissue paper and tuck in around the book to secure it in the box so it doesn’t move.
Last, but most important, store the box that contains the book of postcards in a cool, dark and dry place. Temperature and humidity fluctuations can cause damage to this treasure trove of postcards.
Remember that properly preserving our family memorabilia, memories and history is so very important for all of us as genealogists!
Archival Material Websites
Here is a listing of online archival materials stores. They all have online catalogs and paper catalogs that can be sent to your home. Also, be sure to sign up for email notifications because they periodically have sales and will send out email notifications.
- Gaylord Archival
- Hollinger Metal Edge
- University Products
- Archival Products
- Light Impressions
Melissa Barker’s Legacy Family Tree Webinars and QuickGuides
Scrapbooks! Do you want to know how to find scrapbooks about your ancestors or do you have scrapbooks that you own and would like to know how to preserve them? Get my latest Legacy Family Tree Webinar and QuickGuide:
Scrapbooks: A Genealogist’s Gold Mine
PDF Version: http://legacy.familytreewebinars.com/?aid=1413
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Melissa Barker lives in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee. She is the Houston County (TN) Archivist and a Professional Genealogist. She writes the blog, A Genealogist in the Archives, and has been researching her own family for over 26 years. She lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation.
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