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Preserving Memorabilia with Joseph

Martha Stewart Living Television

When Martha Stewart Living Television producer Mara Altschuler received a collection of her father's photographs, newspaper clippings, and other mementos from his Navy days in the Korean War, she wanted to make sure they were preserved as well as possible. Joe Callahan, chairman of the Scrapbook Preservation Society and a product developer for 3M, offered a number of helpful hints.

Any paper used in a scrapbook, Joe says, should be acid-free and buffered to increase the longevity of the paper placed atop it. It's especially helpful if the paper is both acid-free and photo-safe. Pieces such as newspaper articles or documents can be photocopied and displayed, and the originals put into archival storage. To give documents an antiqued look, they can be photocopied onto newsprint or parchment paper. If you display the originals, use an archival mist to neutralize acids on the paper's surface, and place them into an archival-quality protective sleeve, preferably one made from polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester (avoid PVC). Money and postcards can be put into a special sleeve that allows them to be viewed from both sides.

If you employ adhesives, they should be acid-free, photo-safe, and not so soft that they bleed through the display or ooze out around it. Color and black-and-white photos should be treated the same way as antique documents, with an added caveat to keep them from heat, humidity, sunlight, and pollution. It might be a good idea to scan the photos into the computer and archive the originals.

If you do any writing, use a pigment ink rather than a dye ink, as it lasts far longer. One recent trend in scrapbooking is to use wire as an embellishment (other people have also put cloth, metal, wood, paint, and chalk to use). Bare metals, however, can corrode and turn to oxides; cover any exposed metals and trim wire ends that can puncture or scratch any adjacent items. Metals should be separate from paper, and if you have an object like the dog tag belonging to Mara's father, make sure it isn't placed directly opposite original photos or documents that can be harmed.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Joe Callahan from 3M and the Scrapbook Preservation Society.