U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: preservation of negatives/slides/prints

Re: preservation of negatives/slides/prints

Thanks so much, Mike. She was young, and so doesn't have nearly a collection as large as your dad's. What she does have is numbered in the 100's (not thousands) and probably no more than 25 years old, and I believe they've been cared for fairly well. But I hadn't thought about making an inventory; of course, that makes sense. So you do think it's a good idea to scan these?


On Mar 18, 2007, at 12:31 PM, Michael Healy wrote:

I've been doing this myself for the past six months, with my dad's collection. How big is
it? How old? How had it been stored? If it is very large, you probably will want to do
some sort of inventory so you know what you've got - and identify those prints for which
you've got negs from those for which you haven't.

My dad left 18,000 images dating back to the early 1940s, plus stuff shot by his parents
in the 1920s and 1930s. He closely attended slides and 6x9 negs, but left most of his
35mm color negs in their Walgreens sleeves. So some of it is orderly and well cared for,
while some got dumped in piles.

If your collection is very old, you might start by assessing the condition of individual
images. I found that some of my dad's oldest b&w negs might possibly have some
fungus - hard to tell because they also seem to have "plated" in some way I'm not
qualified to assess. Also, some of his Ektachrome slides from the late '50s fared
horribly. Veru mamy of them have undergone fading of blue and green. These may be
the first I scan, just to get something down. Then again, given the size of this collection,
I might first scan attack those that are not as badly deteriorated, so I get them while
they're still healthy.

One issue I have with my dad's oldest b&w negs (mostly 620 and some similar format I
haven't ID'd) is that he used glassine envelopes. Some of these envelopes, dating to the
mid-40s, have yellowed. There are a couple interesting threads about this topic on the

I personally haven't given a lot of time to his prints, especially the color ones. There are
thousands of them. I decided that where I do have the negs or slides, I don't so much
care about the prints. His earliest prints from his '40s and '50s negs will be an exception.
And of course the prints he had that did NOT come from one of his own negs are a
different matter. You would want to identify these, probably handle them with more
attention than all those Walgreen's prints of his 35mm negs. Another good reason to
make an inventory.


On 18 Mar 2007 at 11:10, Diana Bloomfield wrote:

Date sent: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 11:10:13 -0400
From: Diana Bloomfield <dhbloomfield@bellsouth.net>
Subject: preservation of negatives/slides/prints
To: alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca
Send reply to: alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca

Hi all,

A photographer friend of mine died recently, and her husband
contacted me about her prints, negatives, and slides.  He wants to be
able to archivally preserve those for her kids  and asked me about
the best way to go about doing that.  My immediate answer is to
simply place everything in the appropriate archival storage sleeves,
place in an archival storage box, and keep away from light and heat.
Am I missing something?  Does anybody have other advice?  I'm
assuming the prints would be the most vulnerable to fading and
damage, but is it worth scanning everything to digital format?  I
realize we might not be using CDs in 10 years time, or less, but I
assume whatever we are using could be copied again.  Anyway . . . if
anybody has any better suggestions, let me know.