If you asked five different ladies what their most prized possessions were, I believe that memories contained in their volumes of photo albums would be at the top of the list. Today with the Internet and computers, there are an abundance of on line and digital photo albums. Sometimes a traditional photo album is not the easiest thing to find.
The photo album has seen as many changes as the pictures it contain. The first ones were typically bound books with thick pages. The photos were mounted with glue or little adhesive corners to the pages. Fading and discoloration to the photos was due to air exposure, acid in ink, and the presence of lignin in the paper.
Other albums are made with thick white cardboard like pages. Thin lines of adhesive line the pages. Then cellophane or plastic cover the photos. This is an improvement, but still the presence of acid can damage the photos. The glue strips make removing them or reorganizing them a hard task. Also the photos can bend and tear when dislodged from their original places.
Today there are several companies that offer photo sleeves. Made from a poly substance that looks like clear plastic, the sheets each hold several photos. Sometimes referred to as archival photo holders, the photos easily slip in and out. If choosing a photo holder, be sure to read the product information and choose one that is acid free. Though a little more expensive, the photos will be safer over the years. Pioneer Photo Albums is one company that offers the photo safe books and storage boxes.
Some people like to take their albums a step further and make scrapbooks. The photo sleeves are a great way to lay out the photos and rearrange them. Then the ideas can be turned into the scrapbooks. When scrap booking, attention should be paid to the acid content. Even some ink contains acid. When marking on photos a permanent black marker may be the best thing to write on them with. Craft stores also carry pens to test the pH level. With one of these pens you can check the pH level of not just the paper, but anything else you plan to use in the book. Little stickers, lettering, material scraps, and cards all should be checked before trusting your photos next to them.
Photo albums are a great way to protect your pictures and also put them on display. My kids enjoy pulling the books off of the shelves and looking at places we used to live, birthday parties, and baby pictures. Though a little more effort is required, paying attention to the acid and lining content will help preserve them for years to come.