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Preserving Your Collection

Do you collect coaster- or park-related things? It's never too late to begin taking care of your treasures!

WHAT YOU SHOULD AVOID (the bad stuff)

  • Light (ultraviolet, fluorescent)
  • Moisture (humidity)
  • Heat
  • Airborne pollutants (ozone, car exhaust)
  • Critters (bugs, rodents)
  • Plastics made from polyvinylchloride (PVC) (smells like a new car)
  • Stacking or overstuffing boxes or folders
  • White glue, rubber cement, hot glue, self-stick tapes
  • Pens (few exceptions)
  • Metal clips, staples, and pins
  • Rubber bands
  • Dirt, body oils, perspiration
  • Lamination
  • Wood or acid-based paper storage containers
  • Self-stick pages ("magnetic pages")

WHAT YOU SHOULD USE (the good stuff)

  • Acid- and lignin-free storage containers, albums, and papers
  • Cotton gloves to protect materials from oils and dirt
  • Clean, dark, dry places for storage with good air circulation, temperature between 40° and 70° F, and relative humidity between 40 and 55% (avoid hot attics or damp basements)
  • Plastic sleeves or sheets made from uncoated pure polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester (e.g., Mylar D or Mellinex 516) (odorfree)
  • Plastic and paper corners for photo mounting that pass the PAT (Photographic Activity Test)

Here are some guidelines to help you preserve all the great stuff you've saved . . .


  • Store documents unfolded and unrolled, if possible (fold lines eventually will tear). Separate acidic documents with sheets of acid-free paper.
  • Store documents in acid-free paper folders, polyethylene or polypropylene sleeves, or polyester sheets (see above). Store these in appropriately sized acid- and lignin-free boxes with covers to block the light.
  • Remove staples, paper clips, rubber bands, and any metal fasteners.
  • Don't use any kind of tape to repair torn or damaged documents.
  • Limit handling of documents to avoid damaging them. Wear cotton gloves.
  • Make a photocopy on acid-free paper of newspaper or magazine clippings when the information is what's important and not the clipping itself.
  • Use a soft pencil (#2) to write the date on documents if it's not there already.


  • Copy your home movies onto VHS or DVD format, and use these copies for viewing. Keep the originals.
  • Store film and tapes in water-repellent plastic or metal containers.
  • Store film and tapes upright, on edge, not flat.
  • Do not rewind video- or audiotapes after viewing. Rewind them immediately before you play them again.
  • Do not store tapes near heat or a magnetic field.


  • Clean items before storing, if possible.
  • Wrap textiles in acid-free tissue or clean, white 100% cotton and store in acid-free box.
  • Store textiles flat, if possible.


  • Don't try to flatten curled photographs or remove them from self-stick pages. Consult a professional.
  • If you must attach photographs to paper, use acid-free photo corners that meet PAT requirements.
  • Use acid-free paper envelopes or plastic sleeves made from uncoated pure polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyester (e.g., Mylar) to store your negatives.
  • Photographs smaller than 8" x 10" can be stored vertically (on their long edges) in plastic sleeves or paper envelopes\ in a box.
  • Photographs larger than 8" x 10" should be stored horizontally (flat) in folders or sleeves in a box.
  • Photographs that are all the same size (e.g., 4" x 6" prints) usually can be stored in a box either horizontally or vertically together without individual sleeves or folders.
  • Use a soft lead pencil (#2) to write on the back of photographs on uncoated paper. Write on an edge.
  • Use a felt-tip marking pen to write on the back of photographs on resin-coated paper. Again, write on an edge rather than in the middle. Wait for the ink to dry before stacking the photographs.
  • Store fragile photographs or ones that are handled often in plastic sleeves to avoid damage from abrasion.
  • Copy or photocopy damaged photographs to protect the originals.
  • Hold a photograph by its edges to avoid getting dirt, oils, or fingerprints on it.
  • Don't stuff boxes or folders too full.
  • Don't discard your original photographs and negatives if you decide to digitize your collection.
  • Slides can be stored safely in polypropylene plastic boxes, metal boxes, paper boxes, or in plastic slide pages (no PVC!).
  • If you frame photographs for display, use ultraviolet-filtering plastic or glass to slow fading.


  • Store buttons, name tags, medals, or metal pins individually in boxes or plastic sleeves, which can then be stored in a larger box. A sandwich baggie will hold an individual object.


» Conservation OnLine
» U.S. National Archives & Records Administration
» Library of Congress
» Image Permanence Institute


» University Products
» Archival Methods
» Conservation Resources International

Are your closets packed with coaster shirts, postcards, and other amusement park memorabilia? Donate your stuff to the ACE Archives! As we say here:

We want this stuff!

We need this stuff!!

We want more of this stuff!!!!