Flood Recovery Booklet - ICPC

Flood Recovery Booklet


TECHNICAL
LEAFLET
Emergency
Management
NORTHEAST
DOCUMENT
CONSERVATION
CENTER

100 BRICKSTONE SQUARE
ANDOVER
MASSACHUSETTS
01810-1494

TEL 978-470-1010
FAX 978-475-4021
http://www.nedcc.org

EMERGENCY SALVAGE OF PHOTOGRAPHS

Because of the number of photographic processes and their wide variety, responsible advice for the emergency salvage of wet photographs is difficult to provide. Some processes can withstand immersion in water for a day or more, whereas others would be permanently disfigured or even destroyed by a couple of minutes exposure. In general wet photographs should be air dried or frozen as quickly as possible. Once stabilized by either of these methods, there is time to decide what future course of action to pursue.

Ideally salvage should occur under a conservator's supervision. A conservator can minimize damage to a collection if there is the opportunity to direct the salvage and treat the collection immediately after the damage has occurred. Time is of the essence. The longer the period of time between the emergency and salvage, the greater amount of permanent damage that will occur.

1. Minimize Immersion Time.

Photographs in water will quickly deteriorate: images can separate from mounts, emulsions can dissolve away or stick together, staining can occur. Mold is another problem. Mold begins to grow within 48 hours at 60% RH and 70°F. Mold often causes permanent staining and other damage to photographs. For these reasons photographs need to be dried as quickly as possible. If photographs cannot be dried they should be frozen.

2. Salvage Priorities for Wet Photographs

3. Air Drying Photographs.

4. Freezing Photographs.

5. Drying Frozen Photographs.

6. Salvaging Slides.

7. Call a Qualified Conservator.

Dried or frozen photographs are reasonably stable. Store them until you can talk to a conservator who has experience with photographs and can advise you of treatment needs.

GEA: 8/92