3 Tips To Preserve And Organize Old Family Photos

An old photo album with greyscale photographs

Family photographs are an incomparable treasure for every family history researcher. They might even be the reason for some amateur researchers being drawn toward traditional genealogy in the first place.

Old photographs are a beautiful way to connect with our ancestors. The visual aspects help to make the connection easier and somewhat more authentic. For some, it’s proof of shared physical characteristics, while others may find them to be an exciting portrayal of family traditions and events.


Naturally, you’d want your future generations to enjoy the old family photos the same way you have, so here are some ways you can preserve them.


Stop Storing Them In Your Attic

Most of us have our old family photos stored in the attic or basement, where there’s typically no insulation. These are the worst places to store your photographs due to the extreme temperatures and humidity. Here’s what’s most likely to happen to your old photos as they sit in these uninsulated spots:


  • They’ll become brittle due to the weather;
  • The dampness might cause them to stick together;
  • Rodents and insects are probably having a real feast;
  • In severe cases, the emulsion may even separate from the base.


Ideally, you should store your photographs in a place with consistent temperatures somewhere between 65-70-degree Fahrenheit and 50% relative humidity. If they’re of particular value, a safe deposit box in a bank is an excellent option.


Create Copies Of Your Photos If You Wish To Display Them

We understand that putting old family photographs away in storage may not be the most appealing idea, especially when you feel that they’re amazing enough to be displayed to the world. This is why we suggest making and displaying copies of your favorites.


If you hang original photos on the wall, they’ll get discolored and fade with time due to light exposure. Copies, however, are easy to create and maintain and will make you feel just as close to your ancestors as the originals.

Organize Old Photographs With Great Care

If you’re organizing some old photographs, it’s important to handle them with lots of care since they tend to be fragile. Here’s everything you need to keep in mind:


  • Don’t organize your photographs in regular, low-cost photo albums; only use acid-free, lignin-free, and un-buffered paper for organizing and storing old photos.
  • Try and wear white cotton gloves when handling the photos—if using bare hands, only hold the prints and negatives from their edges.
  • When sorting old photos, avoid using felt-tip ink pens and ball-points and use special acid-free photo marking pens instead. If you can’t find those, use a soft lead pencil and write as lightly as possible.
  • Keep rubber bands and paper clips away when organizing old photographs.
  • Don’t use glue to restore old photos; contact a professional photo restoration service instead.



If you follow these simple tips, you can preserve your ancestors’ photographs for all your future generations while using them liberally in your genealogy research and to illustrate your family tree. And in case you need help with that, you can reach out to us at DavisDNA And Family Research—we offer traditional genealogy services and genetic genealogy services and can help you build your family tree!


You can email us at info@davisdna.com or fill in the online contact form, and we’ll get back to you!