University Archives


Restoration of photographs that are soiled, stained, and wrinkled should be referred immediately to a photographic conservator.

Remember that prints are more vulnerable to damage than negatives. If negatives do exist and are available, it may be the best decision to sacrifice the print and reproduce at a later date. 41)Archives & Library Disaster Plan If there are no negatives, then it is vital to salvage prints immediately. Colour photographs are more sensitive to water exposure than black and white photographs.

Photographs must be separated as soon as possible, otherwise they will adhere to anything with which they come into contact. Therefore photos may receive a higher priority then most documents and books.

Freeze photographs only if they cannot be separated or if there is mould growth. 42)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Photographs mounted in an album can be frozen if they must be preserved. However, the process increases the loss of surface gloss and the cockling of mounts. 43)Archives & Library Disaster Plan


Immediately immerse the photographs in clean, cold water preferably in plastic garbage cans. The water should be at or lower than 22C/72F. 44)Archives & Library Disaster Plan  Formaldahyde may be added to the water (15 millilitres to 1 litre of water) to help prevent the gelatin swelling and softening, and to deter mould growth.
45)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

The materials should be washed in cold, clean water after their removal from the solution. Always keep immersion to a minimum. Prolonged exposure to water will be hazardous for the materials.

If wet photographic materials are in envelopes, immerse in water and formaldehyde. Remove the prints/negatives from the envelopes and wash in cold running water for 15 minutes. These items will later have to be processed in special hardening and finishing solutions. 46)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Rinse photographs in clean water if they are covered in dirt.
Lie photographs  flat, face up, on clean paper or nylon screens. Photographs and negatives may also be air dried by hanging with plastic clothespins on lines of monofilament. Any curling that may occur in the air drying process can be flattened at a later date. 47)Archives & Library Disaster Plan


Collodion glass plate negatives and collodian positives (ambrotypes and tintypes) will be destroyed by freeze drying; therefore any water damage is very serious. Remove from water immediately and air dry. 48)Archives & Library Disaster Plan


Remove slides from their cardboard mounts, dip in clean water, air dry and remount. 49)Archives & Library Disaster Plan


Microforms can withstand temperatures of up to 65C/150F. They will suffer destruction if exposed to 60% or greater relative humidity for long periods of time.


Film must be kept in clean, cold water and sent to the nearest film processing laboratory as soon as possible. Film cannot be dried before reprocessing because it will adhere to anything it which it comes into contact and be destroyed.

If film cannot be immediately treated, reels must be submerged in clean, cool water (below 18C/65F) in a sealed dark container. Submerge colour film for up to 48 hours, black and white film for 72 hours. 50)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

Only add 1% solution of formaldehyde to the water if advised by a reprocessing centre. This may prevent softening of the film's emulsion; however, if left in the solution too long, the film will crack and flake.
51)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

If reprocessing is not an option, unroll the film, rinse in clean cool water, and lay out on its edge to dry. Ensure that the emulsion does not touch any surface, as it will adhere immediately. 52)Archives & Library Disaster Plan

When dry, rewind the film with a hand-cranked reel, passing the film through flannel. Water spots may remain. 53)Archives & Library Disaster Plan


Remove microfiche from the envelope to avoid sticking.

Wash off the mud and dirt under clean, cold water.

If reprocessing is available, keep the item wet, and envelop in cheesecloth.


Wash off mud or dirt under clean, cold water.

Air dry or dry with cheesecloth.

If damage is more than simple water spots, replicate silver gelatin camera masters if possible. If not, commercially reprocess the film. 54)Archives & Library Disaster Plan


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