Collections aren't just found in museums, historic sites and other cultural institutions. Your family photos, papers, passed-down wedding dresses, quilts and other items tell the important story of your history, but you may not know best to care for them.
Luckily, several Cultural Resources divisions have produced some great materials on how to care for your family keepsakes.
Caring for Documents, Photos and Other Paper Materials
Old letters, photos and other paper materials are probably the most common items you'll find in a family's collection. In 2014, the State Archives put together a five-part video tutorial series that can help you with everything from the basics of paper preservation to mapping and preserving the family photos you take on a digital camera.
If you're more a checklist-type person, the N.C. Museum of History has a great guide to the best ways to handle, display and store your family photos and papers and tips on how to keep them at the right temperature, light level and relative humidity.
Caring for Textiles
Old clothes, quilts and other textiles are aslo common in family collections. Textiles are espeicially sensitve to environmental factors like light, humidity, temperature and airborne soil, so protecting them from the extremes of these factors and observing safe handling, storage and display practices is key to their long-term survival.
The videos below show how the N.C. Museum of History's textile conservator preserves flags and uniforms for the Civil War, and provide a great overview on conserving fabric, but keep in mind that conservators are professionals with years of training. Before you try working on anything in your own collection, we recommend you consult a professional.
Conservation Assistance for Cultural Institutions
Do you work for an archive, historic site, library, musueum or other cultural institution in North Carolina? We have several resources to help you.
From 2009 to 2015 we administered the federally-funded North Carolina Connecting to Collections (C2C) program. This project provided professional development training through regional workshops and additional outreach in preservation and disaster preparedness and response topics to assist cultural heritage collections statewide. Much of what was produced by the project is still available on its blog.
If you are interested in being a part of our statewide network of history organizations, please contact Adrienne Berney by email or at (919) 807-7418 and consider joining the Federation of N.C. Historical Societies.
Learn More About the Federation
If you have collections recovery needs and require the services of the Cultural Resources Emergency Support Team (CREST), please contact John Campbell, Collections Manager at the N.C. Museum of History, by email or at (919) 807-7864.
Need More Help?
Both the N.C. Museum of Art and N.C. Museum of History offer Conservation Assistance Days, where you can meet with one of their professional conservators and get advice on how to care for your family's artifacts. Stay tuned to our calendar to see when the next one is coming up.