For Dorothy Butler Facciobene of Youngstown, the experience of archiving and compiling items and photos of her family's history has been a cathartic experience.
"I feel much closer to my family," said Butler Facciobene, the great-great-granddaughter of Joseph Green Butler, who founded the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown. "I understand them better. I feel like I know them, who they were, what they looked like, where they lived, and the things they wore, etc."
But when dealing with old family photos, there are certain guidelines to be followed to ensure the images are preserved for future generations.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Gary S. Angelo
Pamela Speis, archivist at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, displays a daguerreotype.
Jim Yankush, president and owner of YM Camera in Youngstown, said there are multiple ways that people can safely store and restore old photos.
"It's important to put old photos in archival storage boxes," he said. "Companies today make special archival storage boxes that are safe, so there are no damaging acids."
Pamela L. Speis, archivist at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, noted that preservation of old photos is an involved process.
Keep photos away from moisture and heat sources.
Do not store photos next to a furnace or in the garage.
Be careful of places that are prone to mice, rats and silverfish.
When displaying photos, don't use originals - instead, put copies on display and keep the original in a safe location.
If a copy cannot be made, original photos should be displayed for only a short time.
If an original photo is on display for a long period of time, choose a darkened hallway or unused room to limit exposure to light.
Flatbed scanners are the best option for photographs.
Do not use a drum scanner for original prints - it could damage the photos.
If a photo is 8-by-10 inches or larger, use a resolution of 600 dpi (dots per inch).
If a photo is smaller than 8x10, use a resolution between 600 and 800 dpi.
For a 35 mm slide, use a dpi of at least 2,400.
Save images as TIFFs (tagged image file format) at the highest resolution possible.
Back up all files on an external hard drive or flash drive.
Always keep a physical copy of photos as well.
"A lot of it depends on a person's available budget, as well as the condition and format of the original photos," she said. "Different types of photography have different requirements. For instance, a glass plate negative has different requirements than a color Polaroid instant print."
With advancements in technology, people can sometimes preserve and restore their old prints using photo scanners and photo editing software.
"The photos can be reproduced on Xerox or scanning," Butler Facciobene said. "The negatives are on sheets of metal and impossible to have developed. They can never be reproduced in the high quality that they were first made in originally."
Technology also can help people fix the damage that happens to photographs over time.
Speis said that the common problems people have when storing and displaying photos involve heat, moisture and light - all of which can cause extensive damage.
"When we preserve photos, we try to halt levels of deterioration," she said. "One of the most important things for the average person to remember is to get old photos in any place where temperature and humidity is not common. More damage is caused by spikes in temperature and humidity.
"Light is another damaging factor to photographs, and it doesn't matter what type of light it is. All light is damaging," Speis said.
"The photos that have been water and light damaged are the hardest to fix. Thanks to the wonders of Photoshop, it's quite simple to edit," Butler Facciobene said.
Speis also said that color photos are more susceptible to light damage. She said that all color photos should be placed in paper enclosures.
"Light damage causes color photos to fade and the chromogenic dyes will shift. For instance, if a 1970s print has a yellow cast to it, that means the chromogenic dyes have shifted. With color photos, you should not display the original if possible," Speis said.
Yankush said he dealt with some damage to his old family photos caused by improper storage.
"My family had photos from the 1960s that were turning yellow, and that was from the photo album. The acid in those pages was damaging," he said. "In these situations, people should look for a product that is archival-safe, such as polypropylene sleeves."
Safe storage and enclosure is always the No. 1 priority when archiving old photos.
"The best enclosure is paper-based, but we have made the determination that black and white photos should be placed in clear polyester sleeves," Speis said.
Speis said that it is also important to take precautions when handling old photographs.
"I wear cotton gloves when handling photographs," she said. "These cotton gloves keep the oils from your fingers from damaging the photographs."
When it comes to preserving photos, lamination and adhesives should always be avoided.
"Lamination chemically reacts to an album. It is not reversible," Speis said. "Lamination causes the photo to darken over time and in this case, you can no longer read or see the photo.
"There is no such thing as archival safe adhesives," she added. "In this day and age with scrapbooking, there are safe alternatives. Our grandparents had the right idea when they were using photo corners. The adhesive is on the photo corner and touches the album page, but doesn't touch the photograph."