On the last Sunday of every month, genealogists and others set aside a few hours for Scanfest. We gather our old photos and documents, set up our scanners and scan away while we chat online. It’s a good practice to scan as much as you can, for preservation purposes at the very least. Having the scheduled time set aside to do so helps me to make sure I get it done.
This past Sunday, I decided to take all of my old family photos out of their frames and scan them. I was dismayed to discover that a photo of my grandma, my mom and one of my aunts appeared to have moisture damage. The bottom of the picture has the tell-tale warp of one that’s gotten wet.
On the back of the frame, I noticed what look like mildew spots. Perhaps this photo was stored in a box that got wet or was simply on display in an environment with high humidity.
I scanned the photo and decided to ditch at least the back of its original frame, plus the cardboard pieces that were used to stabilize the photo in the frame. I put the photo (which I think may actually be a scan and not the original) into a photo-safe storage box until I can find a new frame for it.
When you find photos like this, it’s best not to put them back in the same environment that caused the damage. You should try to isolate the damaged photo from other materials because it may still retain moisture that can spread to other photos and papers if you are not careful.
In general, it’s best to keep photos, books and documents in a place without temperature fluctuations and with low humidity. Since that is not always possible, I recommend setting aside time to scan your family photos and other heirlooms. At the very least, you may want to take inventory of the older photos/frames that you have and check them for moisture, dust and other damage that could be causing your photos to deteriorate.
If you are interested in joining a future Scanfest, watch the AnceStories blog for the announcement of the next session and a link to the chatroom. Scanfest usually takes place from 2-5 p.m. EST/11 a.m.-1 p.m. PST.