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Preserving Family Memories - caring for your heritage

Memories are an important part of all our lives. Old letters, photographs, scrapbooks, slides and negatives, glass plates, cine film, audio-visual tapes and many other things help us to recall our past and the history of our family and communities. All of these things, however, are subject to decay and eventual destruction if they are not cared for properly. 

Oxford Duplication Centre in Kidlington can support all our clients with digitisation of all consumers, corporate and heritage scanning and digitisation. 

Please do email or contact us 01865 457000 to discuss your project.

Letters, Diaries, Books and Documents. 

Many families preserve letters, diaries, or other written documents in which family members discuss their life and times. World War II remembrances have led many families to look for a relative's carefully stored letters. Other families have saved newspaper clippings of important family events, such as the announcements of births, marriages, or obituaries.  Often when the letters are brought down from the attic or the clippings retrieved from the back of the closet, family members are upset to see the items are disintegrating.

Photographs and Photographic Film. 

Photographs, slides, and negatives have long been used to capture family memories. Every photographic process, however, is subject to decay and self-destruction. 

Given the number of chemicals involved, it should not be surprising that this media is not completely stable. Photos, slides, and negatives fade over time. 

Scrapbooks and Memory Books. 

Many people assemble ‘memory books’ to help them record the history of themselves or their family. Pictures, newspaper clippings, certificates, letters, tickets, souvenir programs, and a host of other memorabilia find their way into these books. Most commercial albums or scrapbooks are made of inexpensive paper and thus have extremely high levels of acid, which will shorten the life of those items. The mix of material placed in a scrapbook can also cause problems. Photographs, highly acidic newspaper clippings, and other items often create peculiar chemical mixes that can cause unpredictable results.

Video and Audio Tapes. 

Over the last decade video and audio tape has become a favourite way of preserving memories.  Tapes, however, are even more fragile than photos and documents, so take great care in preserving these memories. Just as with paper and photographs, heat can speed the chemical reactions that cause the tape to fail, and humidity can encourage the growth of various biological agents that can destroy the tape. Assume VCR tape will need to be digitised. The medium of tape is very fragile and subject to a variety of fatal harms. Plan on converting your tapes sooner rather than later.

Oxford Duplication Preservation Checklist

 Always store your media in a cool, dry place.

 Do not store in uninsulated attics or damp basements.

 Always keep media away from bright light.

 Store media opened, rather than folded, and flat.

 Separate deteriorating media from other items by using acid free paper or envelope.

Oxford Duplication Centre, 29 Rear Part, Banbury Road, Kidlington OX5 1AQ Supporters of local business.


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