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Inexpensive and Fast Archival Method For Storing Photos, Letters and Certificates the Best Way – 7 Easy Steps, A Video Testimonial and a Quick Instructional Video

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Have you inherited piles of photos?

Do you have piles of important photos, certificates, letters?

What do you do when you inherit a large box of photos and other family history items and you want to protect and preserve them, but don’t have time to get organized, make cute scrapbooks and be “everything you can be”?!

Women’s World Magazine recently interviewed me for information on what can a busy woman can do at home, on her own, really quickly, if she spills her morning ‘Joe’ or a glass of liquid on some photos. I mentioned about the process of writing the article a couple of times on my Facebook Page at “Save Your Stuff.”

Then I got an earnest request from a well-known preservation official in the Dallas City government telling me she had just received a box of family history items after the passing of a parent and what should she do to organize and preserve them? She’s a VERY busy executive with no “down time.”  See my blog post at

That got me to thinking about writing this blog post article target for busy people who need a fast, easy, even fun way to get things out of the cardboard box, off the garage floor, out of harm’s way with the minimal amount of effort… and expense.

Not only am I going to make your life easier, help you have a warm sense of satisfaction for accomplishing a task important to you but I’m going to be simple in my explanation AND make you a video to see how its done… just for those of you who are more visual.First of all, congratulations for recognizing the need to do something:

  • Photos stick together when humid weather rolls in… or they get wet!
  • Cardboard boxes, if gotten wet will stain everything in them (left outside, storms-hurricanes etc, a broken water heater or a fireman’s hose).
  • Everything that comes into contact with cardboard and acidic paper usually suffers accelerated deterioration.
  • Separated photos, the way I’m going to teach you now, are stored safer than photos in a pile. Watch this testimonial video of a lady who had a house fire:

Mudslide damage

Don't worry about dirt or damage right now.

In order to do this quickly and efficiently, it’s important to not loose yourself in details and get distracted. Don’t worry about:

  • Tears or rips
  • Smudges or dirt
  • Water stains
  • Fading
  • Or any other condition issues

Sometime in the future you can go back and address these concerns if they keep you up at night. But for now, they are NOT on our “To Do” list. Agreed? None of these issues will get worse if properly stored and protected… which is what we are going to do!

Here are the steps to follow to separate your letters, photos, certificates, etc. into an archivally stable storage folder/book. This works for piles of unorganized letters, slides and photos of who knows what, piles of vacation photos also the things you hope you never loose like priceless ancestor’s photos, certificates, diplomas etc. In other words, this technique is good for getting EVERYTHING into a stable storage situation whether it is valuable or not. Here are the 7 easy steps:

  1. Purchase polyethylene or polypropylene plastic page protectors with 3 holes punched for a notebook. These come in lots of formats and have ready made slots for photos, documents or… don’t let the scientific name of the plastic put you off. Here’s a tip- if the plastic doesn’t smell weird or toxic, its OK to use. All the page protectors that you can buy at the office supply stores are made of the right stuff and are OK to use. Don’t pay more for “acid free.” It’s a sales gimmick. ALL plastic, good or bad, is acid free by nature. Its an irrelevant term when buying page protectors. Don’t pay more. There’s really only one quality of page protector so if there are different prices, even if the sales hype is good, buy the lowest price pack.

2. Buy or recycle and old 3 ring binder notebook.

3. An quicker, easier option to steps 1 and 2… but more limited.. is to buy a ready made photo album from the warehouse stores.                All the ones I’ve seen over the last few years have been of archival materials. You can get an album for about $10.00. See details            on video.

Photo albums you find at the warehouse stores are good to use

A cheap photo album from Walmart is archival

4. Unceremoniously, slide the photos, letters, certificates into the page protectors.

5. If you have piles of stuff already separated by events or years or kid’s names, keep all the items together in the same notebook.                 Mix the different formats of page protectors as needed. Label as desired. Watch out and be careful for accidentally marking                      treasured photos and documents with permanent marking pens!

6. You may want to wear either cloth glove or surgical gloves… or at least keep your hands clean when handling stuff that came out           of storage. Don’t pass around the dirty.

7. Is anything moldy?! Wear a cheap mask with a carbon filter (buy one from a home supply and construction supply house.

You don’t even have to spread your stuff all over the room to see what you have in order to organize them. You can take them from their bad storage and put them, almost without looking at them, into their new archival storage. Very cool and quick.

Your done! But what is next? Copy valuable documents? More attractive storage for “show and tell”? Labeling and organizing? Some preservation methods? Whatever you choose to do, all of these next items on your “To Do” list will be much easier now that you have completed this necessary 1st step. And your items are much safer now too! You are better organized and you can leaf through the notebook(s) and easily see what you have.

Here’s a quick 4 minute video to go through it all with you visually:

There are many, many testimonials of how Scott Haskins’ book, How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster has helped them..

“As a self-help book it is the ultimate manual… This is a must have for anyone who prizes the family’s photo, papers etc. … even without a home disaster.” Juanita Thinnes, Past Pres. Friends of the Historic Mission Inn, Riverside, California and genealogist.

Get a copy today… or download just a chapter…

How To Save Your Stuff From A Disaster (free downloads too!)

We have many other specialized blogs too. Look in the sidebars.

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3 Responses to "Inexpensive and Fast Archival Method For Storing Photos, Letters and Certificates the Best Way – 7 Easy Steps, A Video Testimonial and a Quick Instructional Video"
  1. Bettina Ferraresi says:

    Hello! This was a really splendid blog!
    I come from Milan, Italy. I was luck to search your theme in Yahoo and found your wonderful infomration. We have not such good info in Italy so, thank you!
    Also, is easy to read and I obtain a lot in your theme… really thank your very much. I will come later

  2. Kate Croston says:

    It has been a sincere pleasure to read your great content. Here in our office, we recently came across your blog and were excited to read such great advice and expertise. Perhaps you would like to share with your readers an article “75 Ways the Internet can Save You in the Event of a House Fire or Other Disaster” was recently published on our blog at ( and we hoped that you would be interested in featuring or mentioning it in one of your posts.

    Your examples in this post about house fires was sobering and great advice. Thanks for the great video testimonials.


  3. Beverly Dushan says:

    Your post is a life saver. It has info to help me with our family history stuff just as we are getting boxes of letters, photos etc from my mother who has just passed. Your book is going to be a God send. I’m sure I’ll be back… a lot!

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