Paper is Still Important: Tips for Non-Digital Picture Preservation

With all this hurricane drama--Florence’s wrath has come and gone--I think it’s time to talk about backing up your family photographs. Natural disasters come when you least expect them. Earthquakes, mudslides, hurricanes, and tornadoes are all alive and well in our weather system-- it just depends on where you live!

But I’m not talking about your digital cache. I mean the good old-fashioned stuff you hold in your hand. Maybe the ones that have been sitting in your spare bedroom for months now. Those filed away in your attic (hopefully not) or basement. 

You might be thinking, “Erin, Sweetie, I don’t have time for that.”   

But I’d argue that you don’t have time NOT to.  

That photo of your grandparents after the stop at the courthouse before he left for the war?  Your favorite Great-Aunt Adelaide on her wedding day? Are you the only one in the family who has a copy? Trust me, it’s time.

#1 Leverage those doubles from yesteryear!

Find your stash of doubles from the pre-digital days--either in the basement or (I hope not) the attic. Find your favorite two dozen & place them in an acid-free envelope.  Place the envelope in your evacuation go-bag. Now your favorite memories from the various field trips, vacations, and holidays can join you on the road trip ahead.

Don’t forget the big photo envelopes. Moms are notorious for over-ordering and then never passing out the pics. Divvy those up and distribute between siblings so everyone has a few snapshots of you from 3rd grade!   My brother has copies of my school photos and vice-versa. These spark terrific discussion when your niece sees your crimped-80s hair and bright fluorescent clothing choices.

Bonus tip: Grab an acid-free pen and note the year of the image or the age of the kid in the image.

#2 Scan the snapshots with your device.

In addition to the paper copies, take a few minutes to scan the snapshot stack and any images you inherited (e.g those wedding & engagement portraits mentioned above or the one of cousin Ethel who did go uphill to school each day). And don’t forget a few school snapshots - you know, the ones from the Thanksgiving pageant and the Springtime sing-along. Phone cameras work, but GeniusScan (app) is even higher quality and can be saved directly to Google Drive for backup. A USB works well too--then it can go in your evacuation envelope you’ve got stashed by the bed!  

Having backups in both print & digital when you can is the best of both worlds because it provides you with more options and minimizing your chance of a loss. Happy storing!

#3: Use a good old fashioned safety deposit box.
Remember when you went with Mom and Dad to the bank to put something in the safety deposit box. It was a secret drawer and only you had the key. These may have fallen slightly out of fashion in the digital age, but I’d argue there are still some paper items worth protecting! Photos for one! Safety deposit boxes are still available at some banks and most are in a vault, which means it has additional security. This New York Times article* can tell you more. You can also ask your estate lawyer or insurance agent to keep an envelope in their office as a backup. Or, if you want to keep it in your own home, check out this fireproof document safe*.  

Whether you go digital or opt for the safety deposit box, why not save these pieces of your ancestry?

Do it for you! Do it for your children. Do it for future generations!

*By the way, I don’t make any money providing links to products, but I’m also not responsible for the product or your use of them.