Tuesday’s tip is to check the backs of old framed family photos. Framers often used cardboard and scrap wood to back photographs in their frames in the early twentieth century. These backing materials are highly acidic and can damage your one-of-a-kind old frame family photos by leeching acid into the photographs over a long period of time.

In the archives, we often saw old photographs where the acid in the wood backing reproduced the knotholes and texture of the wood perfectly … and ruined the photograph in the process. (Example above showing the back of a photograph courtesy University of Michigan). You can still use vintage picture frames. Just have your local framer replace the backing (and mats) with acid-free materials. You’ll still have lovely old framed family photos in vintage frames – but with backing that does not harm the photos.

For other posts on family papers and photos, click here.