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Preservation Resources

How can you preserve your family treasures?

Family heirlooms are the objects that connect us to our family histories. Over the years, a combination of time and the elements can wear these objects out, making them too fragile to handle or destroying them all together. But there are some simple steps you can take to slow this deterioration and extend the life of these objects for future generations of your family.

General Guidelines:

  • Store your objects in a cool, dry place--avoid attics, basements and garages.
  • Avoid using old cardboard boxes for storage.
  • When storing newspapers, textiles or other flexible materials, package them loosely with as few folds as possible.
  • Label photographs with a pencil or an archival pen.
  • Use archival- or museum-quality materials to store photographs and objects.


For more general guidelines, see the Northeast Document Conservation Center's resource page on Caring for Private and Family Collections.

Below are some additional resources from museums and collections organizations that offer practical information on how to care for your objects based on the types of materials that you have.

Brass and Bronze

The Henry Ford, Benson Ford Research Center, The Care and Preservation of Historical Brass and Bronze

Glass and Ceramics

Canadian Conservation Institute, How to Care for Glass and Ceramics
Ohio History Connection, History Collections Blog, Last Week We Packed a Museum
The Henry Ford, Benson Ford Research Center, The Care and Preservation of Glass and Ceramics

Quilts

Canadian Conservation Institute, How to Care for Quilts
The National Quilt Museum, Quilt Care
International Quilt Study Center & Museum, Textile Care

Rugs

Canadian Conservation Institute, How to Care for Carpets and Rugs
Ohio History Connection, Collections Blog, Historic Housekeeping: Textiles

Scrapbooks

Missouri Secretary of State, Conservation Services Notes, Care of Scrapbooks
Ohio History Connection, History Collections Blog, Tips to Preserve Your Scrapbooks

Silver

Bishop Museum, The Care of Silver (.pdf)
Ohio History Connection, History Collections Blog, Making It Shine

Textiles

Canadian Conservation Institute, How to Care for Textiles
Ohio History Connection, Collections Blog, Historic Housekeeping: Textiles
The Henry Ford, Benson Ford Research Center, The Care and Preservation of Antique Textiles and Costumes
The Textile Museum, Care for Textiles

Upholstered Furniture

National Park Service, Conserve O Gram no.7/4, Upholstered Furniture: Agents of Deterioration (.pdf)

Wooden Furniture

Canadian Conservation Institute, How to Care for Furniture and Wooden Objects
National Park Service, Conserve O Gram no. 7/1, Cleaning Wood Furniture (.pdf)
Smithsonian Institute, Furniture Care and Handling (.pdf)
The Henry Ford, Benson Research Center, The Care and Preservation of Furniture and Wooden Objects