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Photography Meetup Group Message Board The Photography Meet Up Group Discussion Forum › Help! Salvaging negatives, etc.

Help! Salvaging negatives, etc.

user 8166286
Madison, WI
Post #: 18
I hope that someone can help me with an emergency situation. My basement was flooded, in and in the process, many old (50-100+ years) negatives and prints were water-damaged. They are still wet (I just discovered the catastrophe), and I am wondering what is the best way to dry them to minimize further damage. Specifically, if negatives were stored loose in wax paper sleeves, in regular paper or in envelopes and got wet, is it best to separate them while they are still wet or let them dry and then separate. I have been assuming I should separate them while wet and spread them out on a dry surface (some are drying on the carpet now) but perhaps there is a better way to do this? (And is there a way to clean them once they are dry if they are splotched or have dirt/mold on them?) What about for prints that are stuck together? In some cases, they were clipped with a paper clip which has now rusted! Aargh!

Any advice would be much appreciated.


Brian S
Madison, WI
Post #: 114
I don't know but did a search. Here are links:­

user 8166286
Madison, WI
Post #: 19
Thank you, Brian. This helps. Does anyone else have tips, particularly about wet negatives that dried and stuck together (do you re-wet them or peel them apart dry?). The sites deal mostly with prints.

Also: what to do once the photos have dried and curled? Or is there a way to dry them so they don't curl? I'm talking about larger B&W prints (8x10 or so) from the 1950s and 60s on thin paper that very easily bucks and curls. Another Q: once a photo is curled or wavy, is there a way to straighten other than putting heavy books on it, which could crack it?
user 4392954
Madison, WI
Post #: 40
The Northeast Document Conservation Center provides 24/7 phone disaster assistance for institutions or individuals with damaged photographic materials; call (978) 470-1010. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works (AIC) provides an online Guide to Conservation Services (http://aic.stanford.e...­) that can help you locate an establisehd conservator in your area.
A former member
Post #: 52
I used to develop my own color slides & black & white negatives. I used a squeegee made for removing water from the negatives and then hung them on a line with a plastic clothespin type device made for that purpose. From what I briefly read, it appears the best way to separate the negatives is to soak them in cold water.
I don't have any experience with prints that are soaked, sorry.

user 8166286
Madison, WI
Post #: 20
Thank you Brian, Alfredo and Bill for your tips. I appreciate your taking the time to post.
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