Save Your Family Treasures

With a little patience, prompt action, and professional tips, saving cherished photographs, letters, and other irreplaceable objects is possible. The guidance above will help you stabilize your treasured heirlooms and buy you time to make an educated decision on further treatment and handling of your keepsakes.

Con un poco de paciencia, pronta acción y consejos profesionales, es posible proteger sus fotografías y cartas preciadas y otros objetos irremplazables. Estos consejos de rescate le ayudarán a estabilizar sus fotografías preciadas y le ganarán tiempo para poder tomar una decisión educada sobre el tratamiento y manejo adicional de sus recuerdos familiares.

book iconPhotographsbook iconFotografías

book iconBooksbook iconLibros

book iconDocuments and Papersbook iconDocumentos y papeles

The National Heritage Responders, a team of trained conservators and collections care professionals, has a public helpline email address to provide guidance on salvaging family heirlooms:

Galveston Historical Foundation’s “Flooded & Wet” YouTube video series
Galveston Historical Foundation’s Manager of Historic Collections, Renee Tallent, guides you through the proper procedure for recovering furniture, textiles, and photos damaged by natural disasters.

Saving Your Family Treasures Facebook Live Workshop. A recording of a live demonstration by our experts on how to handle, dry, and clean damaged personal keepsakes, using materials available at local hardware and convenience stores. (Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative)

After the Flood: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures. Tips and resources for individuals and institutions. Also available in Spanish and Vietnamese. (Heritage Emergency National Task Force)

Salvaging Water-Damaged Family Valuables and Heirlooms. Tips and resources for individuals and institutions. Also available in Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, and Portuguese. (Heritage Emergency National Task Force)

After the Fire: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures. Tips and resources for individuals and institutions. (Heritage Emergency National Task Force)

A 10-minute video, “Water Segment from the Field Guide to Emergency Response,” demonstrates how to rescue soaked photographs, books, documents, and other valued items. (Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation)

Disaster Recovery for Films in Flooded Areas. Practical and useful information on recovering film after a flood. (Association of Moving Image Archivists)

First Aid for Water Damage to Film and Tape. This webpage contains some simple steps that you can take to salvage and stabilise your audiovisual objects (magnetic tape, vinyl records, and optical discs). (National Film and Sound Archive of Australia)

Find a Conservator. If a valuable or important item is badly damaged or has been exposed to contaminated water, a professional conservator may be able to help salvage it. Identify and locate professional conservation services using this tool. (American Institute for Conservation)

Flood Recovery Booklet. Contains information and helpful tips on safety, cleaning your home, cleaning and stabilizing important family documents and memorabilia, and where and how to find additional assistance. (Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium)

Repairing Your Family Home. Step-by-step advice for cleaning up, rebuilding, and getting help after a flood. (American Red Cross and FEMA)

Family and Home Disaster Information Resources Series. Publications designed to help Louisiana (and other states’) residents recover from floods, storms, extended power outages, and other stressful and dangerous events. (Louisiana State University Agricultural Center)

Looking for ways to take care of your family treasures during normal conditions? You can check out the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s Caring for Private and Family Collections webpage or the Attics and Basements and Closets, Oh my! Caring For Family Treasures blog series, written by students in the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation.

Salvage a Historic Property

Information for Owners of Damaged Buildings Following a Disaster. Multiple online resources to assist historic property owners in recovering from a natural disaster. (North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office)

Treatment of Flood-Damaged Older and Historic Buildings. Written to help building owners minimize structural and cosmetic flood damage in a wide variety of buildings with varying degrees of flood damage. (National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Hurricane Preparedness and Recovery for Owners of Historic Properties. Comprehensive pre- and post-hurricane checklists. (Historic Charleston)

Flooding and Historic Buildings. Although written for an English audience, much of the content still applies to historic buildings regardless of their location. (Historic England)

What Now? Protecting Historic Properties during Disaster Response. This free, 60-minute course explains the role the federal government plays in restoring community life and economy. Covered are examples of immediate rescue and salvage vs. urgent and essential response undertakings, the Section 106 requirements and timelines of each, the steps of the expedited Section 106 process, and how to apply them to real-life scenarios. (Advisory Council on Historic Preservation)

Mitigation Guidance for Historic Properties

Flood Mitigation Guide for Historic Properties. Intended to assist local planners, preservation advocates, and residential property owners in flood-prone areas to make informed choices to best protect historic properties from flooding. (New Jersey Historic Preservation Office)

Elevation Design Guidelines for Historic Properties. A companion volume to Flood Mitigation Guide for Historic Properties to assist residential property owners and Historic Preservation Commissions in the establishment of parameters for building elevation that are sensitive to the local historic character.