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Restoring damaged pictures and documents

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BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana State Archives released tips on how to save photographs and important documents that may have been damaged in the flood.

For documents:

·        If the documents were submerged, leave them submerged until they can be air dried or frozen.  Schedler recommends you transfer the documents to clean water if you can.

·        Air dry the papers in flat small piles (1/2 inch) or individually if possible.  Do this in an area where the air is circulating.  Use fans if possible. But do not direct the air stream on the documents.  If you have screens that you can lay over to prevent the items from blowing around, use them.

·        Put the wet material on paper towels and allow the paper towels to absorb the moisture.  Every few hours change out the paper towels and flip the sides of the documents.

·        If the volume of material is great, freeze the items which cannot be air dried within 48 hours. You can use your freezer at home.  If you have room to keep them in the freezer for a few months, they will dry themselves out through a process known as sublimation.  Otherwise pull them out when you have time to air dry.  

For your photographs:

·        Air dry as quickly as possible.

·        Separate the photographs from the frames and from each other.  If they are stuck together or stuck against a glass, freeze them.

·        Spread photographs out to dry face up.  Lying flat on an absorbent surface (paper towels, clean cloths)

·        Keep air circulating around the drying materials.  Fans help speed up the process and minimize the risk of mold.

·        Dry negatives by hanging them vertically from a line using plastic clips at the edges.

·        Photos may curl.  Let them dry.  They can be flattened later.

·        Photos that are stuck together should be wrapped in wax paper and then frozen.

·        Later when the photos are thawed, carefully peel the photographs from the group.  Place face up on a clean absorbent surface to air dry.

The Secretary of State’s Office offers specific directions for recovering all types of records.  Just go to the website www.sos.la.gov.  The information is located on the homepage.

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