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How to Organize Your Photos


Negatives and older photos last
longer in specially designed boxes

It's important to organize your photos into an accessible and usable archive, with a labeling structure that can grow and is adaptable to your archive. Generally, it's a good idea to store all your photos together. If there are papers or mementos that correspond to certain photo collections, house those materials in their own archival boxes and use the labels to show that the collections are related.

Start by organizing your photos into groups.

You can arrange the photos in your family archive by:

  • Person

  • Timeframe (1960, 1970, 1980)

  • Event (vacations, weddings, graduations)

  • Place (homes, schools, trips)

Or, you may want to combine terms, like organizing your archive by person and timeframe, instead of just by person or just by timeframe. For photos from your own life, you may want to outline some eras, rather than time frames by year. You can define eras in your own life by jobs you held, places you lived, major relationships — whatever makes sense for your life history.

Labeling Photos
Once you've gathered your photos into groups and you see where the natural groupings occur, you can create a labeling structure that works with what you have.

The key to establishing a naming structure is to use "high level" category descriptions that can be flexible over time and that will enable you to add or delete items easily within the categories over time. For example, your labeling structure might look like this:

A. Photographs
     1. Photo prints (arranged by person and timeframe)
     2. Negatives (arranged by person and timeframe)
     3. Slides (arranged by events, chronologically)

An alternative labeling structure might be:

A. Photographs
     1. John (arranged by type of photo, chronologically)
     2. Jane (arranged by type of photo, chronologically)
     3. Family events (arranged by type of photo, chronologically)
     4. Slides (arranged by events, chronologically)

Helpful Hint: Be sure to record everything you know about your photos, including the names of all the people pictured, as well as the date and place where the photo was taken. If you store your photographs in Mylar sleeves, you can attach archival labels to the outside of the sleeve. Or, you can number your photos with an archival pencil in a discreet location (perhaps a bottom corner or on the back), and then include a typed caption list for all your photos, printed on archival paper, in your photo file boxes. Be sure that you don't write on your photos with ordinary writing utensils, because they can damage the photo and the photos near it. (See How to Preserve Your Photos for more details about labeling photos and photo folders and boxes.)


How to Preserve Your Photos



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Protect your photos with professional archival-quality albums and supplies, including:

  1. Photo Boxes
  2. Negative and Print Boxes
  3. Postcard Boxes
  4. CD Boxes and Protective Sleeves
  5. Multi-Purpose Boxes
  6. Bulk Storage Boxes
  7. Melinex Intermittent Seal Envelopes
  8. Negative Storage System Kits
  9. Cloth Frame Photo Albums
  10. Photo Preservation Box Albums
  11. Buckram Albums
  12. Oversize Format Albums
  13. Polypropylene Album Pages
  14. DVD Storage Pages
  15. CD Storage Pages
  16. C-Line Sheet Protectors
  17. All-Stabilo Pencils
  18. Cotton Gloves
  19. Archival Interleaving Paper
High Capacity Photo Boxes

High Capacity Photo Boxes

High Capacity Photo Boxes are a great storage solution for photos not being framed or placed in albums.

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