Caring for Family Archives often become the responsibility of the family historian. Personal letters, especially written by hand with first-hand accounts of a life and experiences can invoke a time and place and connect the family history researcher very much to their personal past.
Robert recently inquired at the library about binding his Uncle’s letters which he had recently inherited. We asked him if the letters were in good condition. Potential damage to look out for include: biological infestations, structural damage, adhesive damage and surface damage. Read more about this in this article on Paper Restoration from Scrapbook.com. If this is the case a professional conservator's services may be needed.
I suggested to Robert that in fact binding his letters may not be a good idea. Professional Conservators talk about any treatment to materials should be done so that it can also be undone.
He should digitise his collection and transcribe the letters. Perhaps there is information that would help him understand any heritage photographs that his Uncle may have also left behind.
Each page should be stored in a protective sleeve. These sleeves can then be placed in order in an archive folder with slip case. Use the digital copies as access copies and these can also be freely shared with other family members.
Recommended reading :
National Archives of USA Preservation of Family Archives
Finally I suggested that Robert attend one of our upcoming events upcoming events at YPRL next month as part of our Family History Month Program.
Preserving your Family History