As a wrap-up to our look at protecting and preserving family collections, we present a list of archival supply vendors, comments from readers, and a link to an article by a genealogist whose house was damaged by fire.
Vendors of Archival Supplies
• Archival Products. 134 East Grand Ave, P.O. Box 1413, Des Moines, IA 50317. (800) 526-5640.
• Archivart. 7 Caesar Place, P.O. Box 428, Moonachie, NJ 07074. (201) 804-8986.
• Conservation Resources International, Inc. 8000 H. Forbes Place, Springfield, VA 22151. (800) 634-6932.
• Gaylord: Archival storage materials and supplies. P.O. Box 4901, Syracuse, NY 13221-4901. (800) 448-6160.
• Hollinger Metal Edge. 9401 Northwest Drive, P.O. Box 8360, Fredericksburg, VA 22404. (800) 634-0491 and 6340 Bandini Blvd., Commerce, CA 90040. (800) 862-2228.
• Paige Company. Parker Plaza, 400 Kelby St., Fort Lee, NJ 07024. (800) 223-1901.
• University Products. 517 Main Street, P.O. Box 101, Holyoke, MA 01041-0101. (800) 628-1912.
Below are a few of the responses we received on the preservation theme:
“I was fortunate enough to inherit a huge collection of family letters, photos, diaries, bibles, and so on, from several uncles and aunts. I also did about forty years of research on the family. No one really knew what was in the 'accumulation' so I made it my duty to identify each item as to author, receiver and date of writing. Papers go back to about 1800, with many daguerreotypes. I grew worried about fire, flood, and fungus and so donated all this stuff to the University of Utah, Special Collections, where it now occupies about 72 feet of shelf space and is gradually being scanned for the Internet. Now it not only is being well-guarded, but is being made available to all who seek it. When it was in my basement it was 'mine.' But was it really mine? Decidedly no — it belonged to the family and the future. Please, all you packrats, get your stuff to a place where it is available to all. It really doesn't belong just to you.” — Charles Walker, Sandy, Utah
“It is important to let others know of one's interest in family history. My husband's aunt held valuable family history back to a Revolutionary War participant, but after I married into the family and she knew of my own interest in genealogy, she began sending me copies of her notes. When a flood buried all her genealogy material stored in the basement, she spent many days wiping the mud from the items, some of them being originals of copies she had sent me. Several years later, there was another flood and she decided not to go through the rescue process again and told her husband to take it all out to the curb for trash pickup. Thankfully, I did have many copies of her originals.
By contrast, my grandparents had an attic with more square footage than I have seen in some houses. It was dry and insect-free and housed items from the 1700s. Most of it is in my care and I dread the scenario suggested by Ms. Betlock — that she has procrastinated processing all the information that could be shared with family members. Don't wait, folks”. — Margaret (Benedict) MacNeill, Indialantic, Florida
Readers also wrote about how to care for quilts and other fabrics:
“I quilt and have found that storing your quilt in a cotton sheet or pillowcase, then either on a shelf or in an archival box, depending on the condition or age of the quilt, works very well.” — Peggy Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota
“Don't ever store any fabric of any kind in any kind of plastic bag, or box. Only use acid free cardboard boxes — or a pillow slip works great. The reason for not using plastic is that if moisture sneaks in, it never gets out again and you can end up with some really nasty mold or musty odors. Before storing the quilt, air it well in a shady place outside. Then bring it in and let it air some more. Grandmother always aired her quilts by laying them on the grass or a bush. The chlorophyll is supposed to help kill odors. A nice warm day in the shade after a heavy rain was her favorite time to do this as the bushes were washed clean of dust.” — Janice Healy, Aloha, Oregon
Finally, we offer a link to “A Genealogist’s Nightmare: Disaster in the Family Home,” written by William “Rod” Fleck of Forks, Washington. The article, which first ran in the Seattle Genealogical Society’s newsletter in 2000, outlines the steps to take before and after a disaster.