A record gets created, possibly distributed, used, maintained and then disposed of.  If the record you are looking at has significance for you, the disposal method might be to Permanently Store it.

When you start to organize your own papers, you’ll want a system.  Start by identifying the stage of life for each document:

Active Record—you are using it today and in the near future

Semi-Active Record—used for reference or occasionally

Permanent Record—needs to be kept forever

It is the Permanent Records that need to be archived.  Using archival quality folders, sleeves, and boxes will help to preserve your permanent records.  However, you will want to find the best location for these materials, regardless of their container.  Do your best to keep the materials:

  • In temperatures below 72 degrees
  • In humidity between 30 & 50 percent
  • In a dark area

Heat, water and acidity are enemies of all types of paper.  Remove staples, paper clips, and rubber bands, unless absolutely necessary.  Newsprint is especially susceptible to deterioration and you may be better served to keep a photo copy of the original article.

You may want a Permanent Record of something other than a document or photograph.  Memorabilia may tell more stories than anything else you save.

Whether you have artwork, dishware, fabric items, jewelry, or toys from the past, keep them clean and properly stored.

Talk to your family about the items around your home that are most important to you.

At a minimum. write a paragraph or two about where the article came from and why it is important to you.

After all, your memories are the most valuable part of any family archive that you create!

Archival Suppliers:

  • Conservation Resources
  • Gaylord Brothers
  • Hollinger Metal Edge
  • Talas
  • University Products


Levenick, Denise May. How to Archive Family Keepsakes  Learn how to preserve family photos, memorabilia & genealogy records. Cincinnati, Ohio : Family Tree Books, 2012.

Mannon, Melissa. The Unofficial Family Archivist  A Guide to Creating and Maintaining Family Papers, Photographs, and Memorabilia. No Publisher Information,  2011.

Sagraves, Barbara. A Preservation Guide  Saving the Past & the Present for the Future. Orem, Utah : Ancestry, 1995.

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