Looking after your family archive

A collection item from the National Archives

Most family historians start their research at home, with the documents and photographs in their own family archive. 

Family documents typically include birth and marriage certificates, letters, greeting cards, diaries and journals. Family photographic collections can include historic studio portraits, 20th-century happy snaps and digital images.

Advice from the National Archives

The following advice has been prepared by specialist conservators at the National Archives.

Preservation overview

Preserving paper documents and artworks 

Preserving photographs

Creating a scrapbook

Creating a time capsule

Recovering fire–damaged records

Recovering flood–damaged records

Further advice

You can find more preservation advice in in our publication, Keep It for the Future! 

The Records management section of this website also contains information on topics such as looking after film and using suitable archival packaging. The advice, which has been prepared for use by archivists and records management professionals, includes detailed information about managing archival collections. Many of the principles discussed, however, can be applied to caring for your family archive at home.

Learn from the experts

The Archives conservators give workshops and seminars on how to care for family documents and photographs, including digital images. Details of these events are listed in the Events and activities section of our website.

Get professional help

If you're in doubt about how to properly care for documents, artworks and objects in your family archive, you should consult a conservator. This is particularly important if you are contemplating any cleaning or repairs.

The Australian Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM) keeps a list of professional conservators. The AICCM is a national organisation for conservators and people interested in the preservation of cultural material.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2014