The Library of Congress > Wise Guide > November 2011 > A Family That Saves Together Stays Together
A Family That Saves Together Stays Together

You've spent hours organizing the photographs from family vacations. Your video camera gets regular use during your son's football games and your daughter's dance recitals. Your book collection rivals that of the local library. The antique sideboard that was originally your great-grandmother's occupies a place of honor in your home.

Dr. and Mrs. Winn [or Wynn] and daughters Janet and Marie, a Czech-American family, playing Chinese checkers while their grandmother knits. 1942. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information:  Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-fsa-8d23029 (digital file from original) LC-USW3-009886-E (b&w film neg.); Call No.: LC-USW3- 009886-E [P&P] House damaged by the March tornado, San Augustine, Texas. 1943. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-USW3-025083-D (b&w film neg.); Call No.: LC-USW3- 025083-D [P&P]

Personal treasures should be safeguarded so that future generations can share in the collective memories of loved ones. The Library's Preservation Directorate offers advice on how to preserve and protect precious digital and traditional photos, documents, recordings and more.

The "Family Treasures" website gives tips on proper care, handling and storage of family valuables and collectibles, as well as information on preserving them in case of and after a disaster.

Emergency preparedness is a very important part of a preservation plan. Natural disasters can strike at anytime. Water, or a combination of fire and water, is the most frequent cause of damage to collections in general. The Preservation Directorate offers several videos on techniques, such as how to dry photographs, how to wash CDs and how to freeze books.

Another way you can preserve your family memories is with a time capsule. People often make time capsules for special public occasions and for others to open many years in the future. Because time capsules are meant to preserve things over time, it's important to choose wisely the items to preserve and the container they'll be kept in. A hard and fast rule is to choose materials that are chemically stable.