Monday, October 11, 2010
A Photo Album from the 1930s
It's photo album week at Preserving a Family Collection!
In our family collection, we have a wide range of photo albums. One of my favorites is a traditional black-paper photo album in a post-binding, filled with pictures of my mother as a baby and young girl. I imagine my grandparents bought and assembled the album in the mid- to late 1930s. Bringing the album into the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, I assumed it was in poor shape because I knew much paper from that time was highly acidic and I could even see the black paper crumbling along the edges.
Barb says the photographs are also in fairly good shape, variable in quality mainly because of their original processing rather than their storage conditions. The ones that are washed-out and yellow were doomed by poor processing from the very start. The photo album itself hasn't caused much damage. (I don't share with Barb that it was my grandfather who developed these pictures in his home darkroom. He meant well... and many of the pictures are indeed processed just fine, still maintaining crisp black-and-white images.)
One thing that Barb particularly warns against is the crumbling and abrasive black dust common to this type of paper. She says that it can easily spread throughout a collection.
* Photographic Activity Test: Look for storage material and albums that advertise they have passed the PAT.
An Open Invitation: Please feel free to share in our Comments section about your experiences with preserving your family collections or to ask preservation questions about items in your care.
© 2010 Lee Price
Posted by Lee Price at 6:00 AM