Five tips for preserving graduation treasures

Graduation photo collage

From graduation robes to vintage photographs, there are some items worth preserving – and with Colorado State University graduates and alumni alike experiencing post-graduation nostalgia this month, now is the perfect time to ensure their longevity.

But how do you preserve delicate keepsakes that need special attention? These tips from digitization and preservation experts at Colorado State University Libraries and the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising will keep your mementos pristine for years to come.

1)    Store your antiques in a cool, dry place. For photos and delicate textiles, aim for an area with a steady temperature and climate, taking care to avoid moisture or direct light, so avoid basements or attics.

2)    Invest in quality archival materials and use non-reactive materials for packing. Undyed muslin, white cotton sheets, unbuffered acid-free tissues, and acid-free boxes work best for textiles. It’s best to take photos out of the frame and use containers such as archival-quality plastic covers to ensure their longevity.

3)    Handle textiles delicately. Always fold knitted textiles rather than hanging to keep their shape. Use cedarwood to ward off bugs in natural fibers rather than chemical agents like mothballs that could damage the cloth, so graduation robes last long after your diploma gets mailed.

4)    Get organized and stick to it! Sort photos in chronological order and textiles by fabric type. Set aside any photo duplicates and use a No. 2 pencil to write the dates and people in each one on the back of them. Choose an organizational method for photos that makes sense to you and stick with it, whether you sort by alphabetical or chronological order.

5)    Consider digital archives. Have photo negatives that are taking up space? Digitizing photos can be a great way to preserve your memories using a simple scanner and a hard drive, flash drive, or cloud storage service. Make sure to include text descriptions of your photos after scanning and back up your photo archive, so your hard work isn’t lost.

Our prized items can reflect our own personal history and serve as tangible artifacts to remember the past – so preserving your graduation items today will help preserve your university experiences well into the future.

Want to explore your post-graduation nostalgia digitally? Check out the CSU Libraries’ Alumni Photograph Collection in the University Archive.

About the Avenir Museum

The Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising plays an important role in preserving CSU’s own textile history, offering visitors the chance to reconnect with global textiles.

The museum reopened to the public May 18 with new summer hours and three new exhibits. New hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, noon-4 p.m., and Thursday, noon-7 p.m. The Avenir Museum will be closed May 27 and 28 for the extended Memorial Day holiday, reopening on June 1.

For more information about visiting or viewing the galleries, go to the Avenir Museum website.