Answering the Popular Question: How to Preserve Your Family Photographs

Over the years, as I operated a publishing business and spoke at genealogy events, I have been asked time and again questions about archiving and preservation. In particular, I found researchers are concerned about preserving their family photos. Family photos are priceless as both personal memories and often as the only visual connection one may have with their ancestors. Pictures help bring those ancestors to life. Well, in answer to those who have asked before, and may be asking now, let me offer a look into Preserving Your Family Photographs: How to Care for Your Family Photographs—from Daguerreotypes to Digital Imaging by Maureen A. Taylor.

Taylor is a recognized expert in historical photography. She is known for her ability to study photographs for the historical clues that tell stories about the people and events portrayed in the images. Maureen has been featured many times in print and has even appeared on The View, Martha Stewart Living, and The Today Show. Taylor is an expert at extracting information from and dating old photographs. Her other titles, More Dating Old Photographs 1840–1929, Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840–1900, and Capturing Memories demonstrate Taylor’s ability to make genealogical use of photos.

Photography is a science. In its 150 plus years the means, methods, and processes used to take, develop, print, and/or produce photographs have been in a state of constant evolution. Which each new method or standard of photography, including digital, historians and genealogist alike continue to ask the same question, “how can I best preserve this photograph to endure for generations?”

In Preserving Your Family Photographs, Taylor provides the information each family historian needs to maintain and preserve their own family’s photographic collection. The back cover makes as clear as I could just what this book has to offer:

  • “Identify the types of damage already done the photos in your collection.
  • Take care of all your photos going forward, so that damage is a thing of the past.
  • Preserve your digital images – for you and future generations.
  • Select a conservator to repair damaged photos and protect them from more deterioration.
  • Select a restoration expert to restore damaged photos using airbrushing, digital manipulation, or photographic enhancements.
  • Create a stunning scrapbook that will endure, using archival quality guidelines.
  • Properly handle cased images such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes.
  • Explore techniques to share your images.
  • Understand the legal aspect of family photography.
  • Take advantage of low-cost alternatives to traditional photo preservation techniques.”

This book is a history book and how-to guide all in one. The volume is full of helpful ideas and straightforward information every genealogist needs to preserve their memories, their photo collection. In reading, the reader will come to know the differences in type of photographic production used over the years; plus, how to identify and preserve each. Even non-genealogist who only wish to keep their own old paper or new digital family photographs will benefit from the information and guidelines set forth by Taylor in this volume. Whether you are a novice or an experienced archivist, you will likely learn something new from this book.


Table of Contents



Chapter One: Stories Worth Saving

Chapter Two: The Preservation Facts

Chapter Three: Cased Images

Chapter Four: Photographic Prints

Chapter Five: Photographic Albums

Chapter Six: Negatives

Chapter Seven: Color

Chapter Eight: The Digital Age

Chapter Nine: Duplicating Photos

Chapter Ten: Professional Help: Conservation and Restoration

Chapter Eleven: Sharing and Displaying

Chapter Twelve: Safe Scrapbooking






Start protecting your own family’s photographs with a copy of Preserving Your Family Photographs: How to Care for Your Family Photographs—from Daguerreotypes to Digital Imaging from Family Roots Publishing; Item #: MT02; Price: $24.49.

One thought on “Answering the Popular Question: How to Preserve Your Family Photographs

  1. This book is a must for family history photo scrapbookers. Although I encourage scrapbookers to only use copies int heir scrapbooks, it essential that they understand how to care for the originals.

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