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Wartburg Archives Procedure Manual: Photographs

Procedure manual for staff, student workers, interns and volunteers of Wartburg College Archives and Archives of Iowa Broadcasting.


Photographs require special considerations during processing due to the fragility and inherent instability of the format.


Photograph prints, negatives and slides should be stored in clear Mylar/polypropylene sleeves, within buffered archival folders.

Additions to the Photograph Collection (utilizing existing resources) will continue to require housing in hanging file folders within file cabinets –take care that folders are not overfilled (this prevents damage to photographs & prevents items from slipping out of the sides)

New collections of photographs should be housed in clear Mylar polypropylene sleeves within buffered envelopes and within archival boxes. 

Color prints, negatives and slides deteriorate more quickly than other items and should ideally be stored in cold storage (along with damaged items, but not glass) [not currently available at Wartburg Archives].

Items like daguerreotypes and ambrotypes should be kept in their original cases whenever possible, and a custom box may need to be constructed to store them.

Glass items such as glass plate negatives should be housed in four-flap enclosures so the items do not have sealed edges to catch on when being removed from their housing. Broken glass items need conservation treatment. For other formats, the Archivist will make a determination regarding housing needs.


Photographs within a collection should be arranged by format, thereunder by color or black/white and thereunder by size.


Photographs can be described in the aggregate (by subject, date, photographer, etc.) or individually. For any collection of photographs, the level of description will be determined by the Processing Plan. For any items removed from the larger collection for alternate storage, please complete a Separation Sheet.


Digitization can be done in-house, except for very large items.

Parameters – scan at least at 300 dpi (small items like slides should be scanned at 600 dpi, or the particular project/request might dictate different standards), in 8-bit Grayscale or 24-bit Color, at 100% of original. Save as an uncompressed TIF for the Master file copy. Derivatives of JPG or PDF can be created as needed.

Vogel Library, Wartburg College   |   100 Wartburg Blvd, Waverly, IA, 50677 |   Phone: 319-352-8500   | Email: