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How to look after your records and photos

Preserve your family history documents and ensure your children and their children can access their cultural information and heritage.

How to compile your records and photos 

It is important to preserve your family history documents, to ensure your children and their children can access their cultural information and heritage. 

  • An essential part of organising your records and photos, is to follow a research plan. 
  • Organise and protect your collection by ancestor. Start with yourself and go backwards.  
  • Have a digital copy of all physical records, to ensure you have a second copy.  
    • File naming conventions – ancestor name, date of document, type of document. For example: 
      • SMITH_James. 1990.10.10 Birth Certificate.
      • SMITH_James. 2020.10.10 Marriage Certificate.
      • SMITH_James. 2021.10.10 Death Certificate.
  • Storage of photographs and paper-based records 
    • Store away from sunlight, in a dark room or a cupboard. Please ensure they are stored away from water. Store it in an acid-free box to protect from damp and mould. Keep in acid-free sleeves, which can be purchased as special plastic sleeves (acid-free sleeves) at stationary shops. Photos are damaged when acids get on them, there are acid-free sleeves available to keep them safe.  
    • possible, try not to fold documents. Keep them unfolded and flat as possible. 
  • Label your records – name of document, date, and information on document. 
    • Photographs – provide date of photograph, place photograph taken, and names of people left to right. 


  • Avoid paper-based records. Keep these in acid-free plastic sleeves or an A4 folder;
  • Don’t use staples, paperclips, or sticky tape, or laminate records; 
  • Write in 2B pencil on the back of photographs or records. 

If you have a collection that is a little damaged or folded, please contact  

Download the family history template.

More information about looking after your records

For large and complex collections