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Faculty Papers: Preserving Materials

Tips for Storing Materials


  • Store papers flat or in protective folders. The more that you fold, unfold, and crease paper, the more brittle it becomes.
  • Store newspaper clippings separate from other paper materials or use sheets of white paper as a buffer against other materials. Acidity from newspaper often yellows adjacent paper.
  • Avoid exposing paper materials to bright light, which can cause fading.
  • Dust, pollution, and pests can damage paper documents.
  • Keep valuable papers in clean areas and enclosed in boxes or containers to prevent physical decay.

Photographs, slides, and negatives

  • Be careful when touching photographs and film. Fingerprints can become a permanent fixture on the images you have captured.
  • Store these materials in acid-free boxes, envelopes, or folders. Archival polyester sleeves and sheet protectors are great for storage and are commercially available.
  • Record information about the people, location, and events captured in the image on the backside of photographs with a dull pencil. For slides and negatives, record information on plastic sleeves or paper that is stored along with the images.
  • For digital pictures, print thumbnails of your files and make notes about who and what the images are about.

Video recordings

  • It is better to transfer video recordings to newer formats (like DVD and digital) as they emerge so that recordings remain accessible. It can be costly to transfer video recordings to newer formats once an old one has become obsolete.

Digital files

  • Migrate files from floppy disks to CDs or DVDs and to removable hard drives as necessary and as new developments in technology dictate.
  • It is best if you back up files in multiple places.

Scrapbooks and photograph albums

  • Store scrapbooks and albums flat to prevent loose material from falling out.
  • Use archival quality adhesive corners or sheet pocket enclosures made from polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester.
  • Interlace highly acidic paper with acid-free white paper so that acid doesn't migrate from one page to another.

Contact the University Archives

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 - 4:00

For inquiries or to schedule a research appointment, email ( or call 937-229-4256.

We are located on the second floor of Albert Emanuel Hall in room 211.

Online preservation resources

These websites provide information and instructions for preserving personal and family papers and link to more comprehensive information for preparing, protecting, and preserving many types of materials.

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