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Finding a Family History Center

Family History Centers are an incredible resource for all researchers. To find the location and hours of the one closest to you, call 1-800-346-6044 or visit http://www.familysearch.org/Eng/Library/FHC/frameset_fhc.asp


Quiz: Lifetime of Family Records and Objects

What is the standard lifetime of the following types of records or objects before they seriously deteriorate?

  1. Newspaper clippings
  2. Computer printer paper
  3. Modern book paper
  4. Bond, high rag content papers
  5. Magnetic (press down) page photo albums
  6. Color photographs
  7. Slides
  8. Polaroid, instant-print photographs
  9. Scrapbooks made with rubber cement
  10. Video cassette
  11. Audio cassette

Used with permission from The Everything Family Tree Book by William G. Hartley (Adams Media, 1998)


Safe Storage Places

Collections of family materials deserve to be housed responsibly. You will need some drawers, a file cabinet, shelves, or cupboard space suitable for these items. Your storage place should be safe for records, ideally with the following conditions:

  • Medium temperature between 40 and 68 degrees.
  • No major swings in temperature, such as can happen in garages and unfinished attics.
  • Medium humidity - not too dry, not too humid. Keep records away from steam coming from bathrooms and kitchens, and from humidity produced by air conditioners and washers and dryers.
  • No direct sunlight or fluorescent lights. Light does more damage than either water or fire. Ultraviolet rays from the sun and from fluorescent lights cause photographs to fade and paper to yellow and become brittle.
  • Away from water pipes that might leak.
  • Out of contact with floors that could be flooded if water pipes break, a roof leaks, or a sewer line backs up.
  • Not touching basement cement floors from which they will draw moisture.
  • Dirt-free, and relatively free of dust.
  • In an area where the air is not stagnant (so that mold doesn't grow).
  • Away from car exhaust, which mixes with humidity to create sulfuric acid.
  • Safe from mice and other rodents, worms, and insects. Books contain the cellulose of paper, as well as proteins or carbohydrates in the form of gelatin sizing, glue, paste, leather, and other organic substances that are attractive to insects and rodents.
  • Safe from children.
  • Safe from spilled drinks or food.
  • For audio tapes, away from magnetic fields caused by magnets motors, light switches, and TVs.
  • Where they can be rescued reasonably easily in case of fire or natural disaster.
  • In a safety deposit box or fireproof vault if containing extremely valuable items.


Quiz: Answers

  1. A few days
  2. 5-10 years
  3. 50 years if properly housed
  4. 50 years or more
  5. 4 years
  6. 20 years
  7. 15 years or more
  8. 2 years
  9. 10-15 years
  10. 10-20 years
  11. 10 years


The information contained on this page comes from a variety of sources, but relies heavily on The Everything Family Tree Book by William G. Hartley (Adams Media, 1998) and Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide to Family History & Genealogy by Jim & Terry Willard with Jane Wilson (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997).