By Lisa Adam, the curator of collections & registrar

Invest in the best

  • Start with acid-free or archival storage materials, available at art supply and craft stores.
  • Do you want to browse through the photos frequently? An album might be best. Do you want to store a large number of photos? A box might be more convenient.
  • If you can, buy a set of matching albums or boxes. This will make it easy to organize your photos over the years.

Write it down

  • Go over photos when you first receive them, especially if you get them from someone who can tell you information about them.
  • Record an identifying description on the back of each photo (and on album pages if used).
    • Use the “Who, what, where, and when” formula you learned in school.
    • Write out full names. Someday, a descendant may not know who “sister” or “Aunt Nan” is unless the full name is there
    • Good example: Mom (Maria Gonzalez) and her sister (Nydia Alaniz) picnicking at Boca Chica beach, March 1993
    • Poor example: Mom and her sister at the beach
  • Write on photo paper with a light touch, and make certain you use an acid-free, photo-safe pencil or pen (available at art supply and crafts stores).

Curate your collection

  • Don’t keep bad exposures, blurry shots, or bloopers you won’t look at again. Get rid of duplicates or give them to friends and family.
  • Make a list of any images you want to have reprinted or scanned for sharing and safekeeping.
  • If you’re overwhelmed with photos, pick the ones most meaningful to you and start with those. If you had to evacuate your house, for instance, which are the images you would want to save?

Put it together

  • If using an album, be sure to use acid-free photo sleeves or corner mounts. Don’t glue or tape photos.
  • If using a box, keep the photos upright by wedging another piece of cardboard or crumpling acid-free tissue paper behind them.
  • Store the album or box someplace with stable temperatures and above floor level (in case of flooding or water leaks).