Looking after your own records

You may have papers, bound records and photographs at home which you wish to keep in good condition. This page offers basic advice on storing your own records - if you are managing an archive please see Caring for archives.

Storing your records

  • Protect your records from heat and damp. At home, records are best kept in a cool, damp-free room where the air can circulate
  • Avoid storing them in attics or cellars where they cannot easily be monitored
  • Think about how you can minimise risks from fire, flood, theft or pests
  • Store all papers flat and unfolded
  • Use archival-quality folders and boxes of appropriate size
  • Keep papers in their original order or arrangement
  • Keep records out of direct sunlight or powerful artificial lighting. Protect them by blinds or boxing as appropriate
  • Protect records from dust
  • Don't store records in common household plastics such as bin liners, plastic bags or cling film. These emit harmful gases as they degrade and prevent air circulation

Simple preservation measures

  • Don't try to repair damaged documents. Self-adhesive tape is highly damaging as it causes chemical reactions to paper and parchment
  • Use brass clips (clips made of other metal tend to rust) to hold single documents or small numbers of related papers together
  • Carefully remove metal paper clips, staples and pins, and rubber bands where this can be done without damage. Unbleached archival tape made of cotton or linen can be used to preserve original bundles of papers

Further information

More information on caring for particular types of documents is provided in the leaflets below, written by The National Archives and The Institute of Paper Conservation:

Caring for your prints, drawings and watercolours (PDF, 0.88Mb)

Caring for your photographs (PDF, 0.30Mb)

Caring for your books (PDF, 0.96Mb)

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