I just finished processing the Kingsport Altrusa Club Records for the Archives of the City of Kingsport. It is a very large collection that includes about a dozen scrapbooks.
Two of the scrapbooks were created with modern materials with good archival qualities like clear plastic sleeves, photo corners, and acid-free paper. Several needed just a moderate amount of conservation work. One or two albums were beyond help and we will just house them in archival boxes and hope for the best. Two of the albums were created using nasty, evil, “magnetic” pages and required hours and hours of conservation work. For this blog I thought I would highlight some of the good and the bad techniques of scrapbook keeping.
The city archivist and I are always surprised when a contemporary magnetic page scrapbook is donated to the archives. Are companies still making these? Do not be tempted to go to the dollar store and buy one. I will repeat what I have said in the past, “There are no magnets involved. It’s GLUE!” Some of the negative consequences of using magnetic pages are that over time, the bond increases and documents will eventually be permanently stuck. The acid in the glue and paper will discolor photographs. The more delicate the material adhered to the page, the more quickly it will become impossible to remove from the album.
Above is an album that I transferred from magnetic to archival page-by-page. I tried to maintain original formatting whenever possible. If a page was entirely comprised of photographs, I used a photo sleeve. I photocopied newspaper articles onto acid-free/lignin free paper and put larger articles into separate sleeves.
Above you see photo corners, clear page and photo sleeves made of polypropylene (not PVC), acid-free/lignin-free cardstock, and an archival polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue pen. To save time, I left the big, inexpensive bottle of pva glue and the paint brush in the storage room, I confess. Remember, I had two giant albums to transfer. More information about scrapbook supplies, here.
And now, a word about rubber cement.
Rubber cement’s adhesive stains, causes your photographs to deteriorate and, ultimately, fails.
All of the items saved in the second half of this entire scrapbook had slid right off of the pages. So, in review, rubber cement is bad and pva, water-based, wheat or rice paste glues are good.
Lastly, I recommend taking advantage of the advice the Library of Congress and the National Archives give for preserving family memories. Once your album has been appropriately created, keep it safe by following the steps provided by the Northeast Document Conservation Center.