Kingsport: Labeling

In the past, I have sometimes recommended what one should NOT do when attempting to preserve family keepsakes or when  visiting museum displays. For instance, do NOT leave paperclips in scrapbooks. Do NOT touch artwork on exhibit. Do NOT adhere photos to a page with cellophane tape. Don’t use sticky labels, sticky notes, or really anything else sticky in your keepsakes. Today, I am going to recommend what one SHOULD do when preserving memories. Do, please, label your photographs.

Here is an example of some pretty awesome photo album pages compiled in the 30s and 40s.


Because there are no captions we don't know who is in the photograph or when it was taken.

Ocean Goers

Now, imagine an entire album without a single caption or label.

Photographs can be labelled in the margins with an archival safe pen. They can be labeled on the backside if the writing is placed above or below the most important portion of the image. The best practice is to slide a caption written on acid-free/lignen-free paper into a sleeve with the photograph or to secure the pictures in an archival quality album with archival photo corners and write the caption on the page, itself. Include who is in the photo, where and when it was taken, and the age of the person, if known.

I think the images below are such a neat way of capturing the passage of time in a person’s life.

Photo Timeline

These three pages capture a 28-year time span in one ancestor's life.


The images start in 1928 and continue through 1949.


Unfortunately, only the year was recorded.

You got it. Without a name, we have no way of knowing who this woman is. Throughout the rest of the large album, the only labeling describes locations. No names are given and no more dates are recorded. These two albums make my archiventurist heart inordinately sad.

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