Keeping Family Heirlooms safe

Keeping Family Heirlooms safe

Our families are central to our lives, and many of us own items from the past that remind us of our history. Unfortunately, with time, these prized possessions can fade and fall apart until they are utterly dilapidated. You want to keep these momentos in the best shape in order to share them with your grandchildren. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to preserve these items and make them last for generations to come.

With Utah’s rich history, such as the Mormon settlements which date back to 1847, you and your family are likely to have many valuable keepsakes. But how do you protect these fragile items from the wear and tear of time? Sure, you can scan photos and save them on your computer, but what about items that can’t be saved electronically?

Where Not to Store Valuable Heirlooms

You might think that attics and basements are safe and reliable places to store keepsakes, however, this is not the case. Attics can be scalding during summer and freezing come wintertime. Such extreme temperatures are harmful to delicate items. Basements are often cold and hold moisture, which can be just as damaging, if not more.

Storing valuable family heirlooms in the basement can be particularly risky if you also keep your hot water heater there, too. Should the heater leak, the water can destroy these items almost instantly. There also tend to be many water pipes in basements. If a pipe breaks, you could have a potentially irreversible problem.

Where to Store Family Heirlooms

When searching for a place to keep family heirlooms, you have to pay attention to many factors. Naturally, things deteriorate over time, but the rate at which the item deteriorates is determined by the environment in which it is stored.

Invest in archival supplies to store your momentos in. Find acid-free containers, as the acidic material will speed an item’s aging process and harm it over time. While acid-free archival boxes tend to be more expensive, the investment will be well worth it in the long run. If you are looking for a cheaper option, cardboard boxes are a much better alternative to plastic since they don’t hold in moisture.

Consider investing in services like storage units cedar city Utah which are protected by 24-hour security. Such facilities are dustproof, waterproof, and rodent-proof. Your precious family heirlooms will not only be safe from theft, but from the elements that harm them, as well.

Repairing Items
Sometimes breakage is out of our control. When something of historical or sentimental value breaks, take steps to repair it properly. Super glue and duct tape might seem like attractive methods of repair, but they really aren’t the best option for fixing items of value. When you use tape, it leaves a residue or can end up tearing paper. And staples and paperclips can cause rust stains to appear.

Do some research to learn the best method of repair for the specific item in question. While you might be able to fix somethings yourself, there will be times when you might need to solicit the help of an expert. There are many archivists available to provide valuable information about how to take care of your keepsakes. Contact the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service to find an expert near you.

Paper Keepsakes

Paper momentos such as letters and photographs preserve much of a family’s history. But how should you preserve these papers? For starters, do not laminate these valuable documents. Lamination can damage the paper and it doesn’t really protect it. Often times, the lamination process is irreversible. Again, don’t leave photos and documents in the basement or attic. Basements and attics are havens for rodents and bugs that often gnaw away at paper products.

Instead, store these items in a suitable environment to slow their aging process as much as possible. Keep them away from sunlight and in a dry area. This can be done successfully as demonstrated by organizations such as the J. Willard Marriott Library. This library, which is part of the University of Utah, has an entire collection of rare books, documents, and images that have been preserved for many years.

It is important to preserve our family history. By taking a few simple steps, you can ensure that stories and heirlooms will be passed down for generations to come.

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