The Ultimate Archival Supply Shopping List

The most common question I receive from people learning how to create their family archives is what supplies to buy. I've curated a collection of the best, most affordable, and most useful archival products that every home archivist should invest in. 

New to archives? Here's a quick primer to what it means when a product is of "archival quality."

Archival supplies are available from several distributors, such as Gaylord Archival, Hollinger Metal Edge, and University Products, through Amazon, and even in stores, most notably The Container Store. I always suggest The Container Store to clients who have never seen or worked with archival supplies before; the store has a small, but marvelous selection of archival boxes, folders, and enclosures in their Photo Storage section.

Depending on your archival needs, you may want to buy all of these materials or only a few.  

Here are some items to consider buying, with links to my favorite products below:

  • Creating Family Archives: How to Preserve Your Papers and Photographs (mandatory, of course!)

  • No. 2 pencils and a sharpener (I'm assuming you already have these)

  • A mini spatula to carefully remove staples and photos from sticky surfaces

  • Archival-quality clips to replace traditional paper clips that rust

  • A book and document cleaner, like Absorene

  • A PH testing pen

  • Archival-quality file folders (I prefer letter-sized folders with full tabs. Order more than you think you'll need because you'll go through these quickly).

  • Clear, archival photo corners

  • Drop-spine archival boxes to store materials flat

  • Vertical file archival boxes, best for letter file folders

  • Bankers boxes for when you have a lot of files (Paige No. 15 Miracle Boxes are the easiest to construct and the most durable. I'm WILD about these boxes and will use no others for my clients).

  • Photo boxes with photo enclosures

  • Photo envelopes

  • Clear plastic enclosures for papers, pamphlets, family records, and small maps

  • Archival photo album kits (I prefer cream pages over black).

  • Unbuffered or buffered acid-free tissue (If unsure of the materials you're protecting, chose unbuffered).

I am not affiliated with any of the companies I've mentioned in this post. If you purchase an item, I receive a small percentage of the sale through the Amazon Associates program. 

To learn the preservation secrets used by libraries, archives, and museums to protect their priceless materials (that you can also use for your family heritage items) read my book:

If you like archives, memory, and legacy as much as I do, you might consider signing up for my email list. Every few weeks I send out a newsletter with new articles and exclusive content for readers. It’s basically my way of keeping in touch with you and letting you know what’s going on. Your information is protected and I never spam. 

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