Collections aren't just found in museums, historic sites, and other cultural institutions. Your photographs, papers, wedding dresses, quilts, and other items tell the important story of your family, but you may not know how to care for them.

Luckily, several Cultural Resources divisions have produced some great materials on how to preserve your family keepsakes.

Caring for Documents, Photographs, and Other Paper Materials

Old letters, photos, and other paper materials are the most common items 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.

Keep Your Family Photos and Papers Safe With These Tips

Caring for Textiles

Old clothes, quilts and, other textiles are also common in family collections. Textiles are especially sensitive to environmental factors like light, humidity, temperature, and airborne soil, so protecting them from extremes 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. These 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.

Get Detailed Tips on Caring for Your Textiles

Need More Help?

The N.C. Museum of History offers Conservation Assistance Days, when you can meet with a staff conservator and get advice on how to care for your family's artifacts. 

If you'd like more in-depth advice, take a look at the N.C. Museum of Art's guide on selecting the right appraiser or conservator.