Stones of Remembrance: What Do I Do with All Those Photos

Stones of Remembrance: “Help!  What Do I Do with All Those Photos?”

Photographs tell stories in a way words never will. Facial expressions, clothing, automobiles and scenery all work to interpret history and bring it to life.  Most churches, however, have boxes and boxes of photographs with no identification of people, place or occasion.  The questions flow.  “What event was this?  Who are these people?  Is this a significant church picture or something that got tossed in a box?”  This is the time to break that cycle! 

Photographs and slides can be divided by subject such as anniversaries, buildings, homecomings, pastors, staff, Vacation Bible School, etc. The second step is to sort chronologically as much as possible.  Work with long-time members to identify people and occasions.  Have several members in at the same time and make notes as they tell stories about the pictures.  There will be laughter as well as tears and additions to the church history. 

Photograph preservation:

  • Identify and date using photo safe pen/pencil
  • Store in archival (acid-free) folders
  • Store negatives in acid-free envelopes with the photographs

Slide preservation:

  • Store in plastic slide pages (twenty to a page)
  • Place in loose leaf notebooks
  • Archival slide trays can also be ordered

Both of these can be stored permanently in filing cabinets or archival boxes. The key to being able to use these valuable interpretative tools is a good indexing system.  Once organized, the photographs will be readily available as a resource for all.