Posts Tagged ‘family history’

Announcing the Launch of: Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album

In this book I turn my attention to portraits and pictures taken in the Civil War era to help you find wartime stories in your family photo collection. These images, whether it’s a man in uniform or a woman posing with her children, tell the story of your family’s involvement in a critical period of history. If you’re not sure if your photo dates from that timeframe, this book will help you determine when it was taken.

Click on the Book cover above to order your copy today!

Movie Film

While home movies are not technically photographs, they are often part of a family photograph collection. In fact, it would be difficult to find a family without at least one reel of 16mm or 8mm color movie film.

Movie film first became available in the same 35 mm formats used to make early commercial films. If you own any 35mm motion picture film, please contact the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute at the American Film Institute, 2021 North Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027, Telephone (323)856-7708. Since nitrate film was produced from 1889 to 1939, most of the early movie film is unstable and should be transferred to safety film.

All color film, both still and motion picture, fades. You should follow a set of guidelines to slow the deterioration of your home movies.

For more information on those guidelines and caring for your movie film. See Chapter 7 of Preserving Your Family Photographs or email me at

Cold Storage

Cold storage of color materials has been around for a few decades. The leading authorities on cold storage of color photographic materials are Henry Wilhelm and Carol Brower. They found that cold storage discourages the fading and deterioration of color photographs.

Supplies needed for cold storage include:

  • Freezer (frost free)
  • Ziploc airtight polypropylene storage bags
  • Disposable examination gloves
  • Metal storage boxes

A lot of people like to store photographs at home. Instructions for cold storage can be found in my Preserving Your Family Photographs book.

Don’t want to do this at home? You can rent space from a commercial cold storage facility called Hollywood Vaults (800) 569-5336.

Color Photographs: Instant Color

Until 1947, amateur photographers either sent their rolls of film to a lab for developing or did it themselves in a home darkroom. Edwin Land’s patent for “instant” black and white pictures that developed in a minute changed everything. Photographers could shoot a picture, watch it develop, and decide whether to take a new one. This dawn of a new age in family photography presented shutter-bugs with instant gratification.

In the 1970s Polaroid patented a color film. According to The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography (Focal Press, 2007), consumers shot approximately a billion Polaroid prints in 1974. Close to 65% of that number were color images.

The problem with these new instant color pictures did not surface for several years. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of a color Polaroid can be limited to only 5 to 10 years if storage conditions include environmental fluctuations.

Special Concerns for color photographs include:

  • Fading
  • Discoloration
  • Cracking
  • Moisture and Temperature
  • Fingerprints
  • Poor Quality Plastic
  • Surface Treatments

This is an example of digital restoration. The colors shifted destroying the image. The black and white print was the first stage of the restoration. In the final print, color tint was added. Edwin Schuylar Richerson and his bride Eleanor Rita, November 27, 1954. Photo courtesy of Linda Templeton. Retouching by Lorie

Preserving Your Family Photographs goes into more detail about these concerns and how to avoid them in order to save your valuable photos.