MOUNDRIDGE — If you want to make sure that family photographs and heirlooms are going to be passed down in good condition, you need to know how to clean and preserve those items.
Rosemary Fisher, director of the Moundridge Museum Complex, will give a free presentation on preserving family heirlooms at 7 p.m. on June 19 at the Moundridge Public Library, 220 S. Christian Ave.
"It is, I think, important to give the information to do this," Fisher said. "People try to do things, but they don't know how, and they cause more damage."
Fisher will speak about saving documents, photographs and fabric-covered items, as well as guarding against damage from insects, mold and dirt.
"We have been raised with so much false information," Fisher said. "If you know what to avoid, you can save your stuff."
Items used to be stored in cedar chests, and people thought the wood would keep insects away.
"It was just the thing to do. A girl got married and had a cedar chest," Fisher said.
Their popularity has waned as people realized that not only were cedar chests not bug proof, the wood could produce oil that would stain fabrics touching it.
Fisher will bring samples of the containers and accessories used to preserve items from silverware to stuffed animals, including buffered and unbuffered tissue paper, acid-free boxes, cotton gloves and photograph storage items. She will also tell attendees how to determine which storage items are of archival quality and where best to safely keep items in your home.
"One thing I really stress is, if they go through old family photos and they know who they are, for heaven's sake, write the names on the back with a No. 2 pencil. Don't use a ballpoint pen, because it will bleed through to the front of the photo," Fisher said.
Caring for special items of clothing — wedding dresses, military uniforms, fur coats, etc. — takes more than just a quick dry cleaning. Fisher said they should be kept in an acid-free box, not encased in plastic on a hangar.
"It doesn't let the fabric breathe," Fisher noted.
It is also good to use tissue paper to help the article of clothing keep its shape, and to soften folds.
"If you are trying to preserve something like a quilt, it's important that your re-fold the quilt about three times a year, because where the fibers are bent, over time, they will weaken," Fisher explained. "You need to spread it out and if you've folded it in fourths, fold it in thirds so the folds are at different places. Where the folds are, put tissue paper so the fold isn't so severe. Don't stuff it in a plastic bag."
Especially of importance in the digital age is making sure photographs are regularly printed and labeled.
"Always have a backup copy if you're storing pictures on your computer or phone," Fisher said. "If it crashes, you're out of luck."
Fisher will also talk about how to organize your family documents and heirlooms.
"It is a very individual kind of thing, but it is something you need to give some thought to," Fisher said.
Space for the presentation is limited. Call the library at 620-345-6355 to register.