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Salvaging Photographs & Artworks from Flood, Fire, and other Disasters

Info collated by Mr. William Hernandez, Patron and Donor of the LMM

“How to Salvage Flood Damaged Photographs:

“Emergency Salvage of Wet Photographs”:

Here is an excellent site for referencing the conservation of all materials in an emergency situation.

Salvaging belongings damaged in a disaster

Fire, water, dust and mould can all badly damage collection materials. While a damaged item may never look new again, sometimes it is possible to preserve what remains.

  • Download AICCM’s brochure After a Fire [PDF file – 401.29 KB] to find out what you can do to salvage fire-damaged possessions. Please feel free to print, copy and distribute this flier.
  • Download AICCM’s brochure Salvaging keepsakes after a disaster [PDF file – 137.76 KB] to find out more about disaster preparedness and how to salvage collections damaged by water.

Fire damage

Bushfires…Protect Your Precious Possessions (Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation University of Melbourne). The CCMC received funding from Emergency Management Australia to produce a booklet aimed at assisting people to prepare for and protect their precious possessions in the event of bushfires.

First Aid for Fire Damaged Audio Visual Material (National Film and Sound Archive). The NFSA site also contains information about salvaging damaged photographs.

Fire damaged memorabilia: advice for bushfire victims (Australian War Memorial)

Caring for your mementos – Cleaning soot damaged objects (Australian War Memorial)

Fire damage (Chicora Foundation – USA). After a fire you will likely have several types of damage… Some items will be heavily damaged by the fire — exhibiting ashing, charring, melting, or other distortion from the heat. Much of this material is likely not salvageable. The remainder may be lightly scorched, covered in soot, and have a strong odor of the fire…read more. Chicora is a non-profit heritage preservation organization founded in 1983.

Heritage Emergency National Task Force (USA). This site offers some tips for cleaning up after a fire, safely.

Flood and water damage

How do I salvage flood-damaged records? (National Archives of Australia)

Flooding (Chicora Foundation, USA). Water can come from exploding toilets, leaky roofs, or hurricane flooding, but you should always remember that water is never just water. Depending on the cause of the flooding and the source of the water, it may contain chemicals, pollutants, micro-organisms, and mud. As a result, it can cause a variety of problems and wet paper or collections may be the least of your concerns…read more. Chicora is a non-profit heritage preservation organization founded in 1983.

National Park Service (USA) Conserve-o-grams. These help sheets focus on the salvage of water-damaged material.

Heritage Emergency National Task Force(USA). This site offers a 10-minute video about Coping with water damage.

The Library of Congress (USA) offers information about Emergency Drying Procedures for Water Damaged Collections.

FEMA’s Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) Program (USA) has an online version of the Emergency Response Wheel about Recovering From and Coping With Flood Damaged Property. You can access information about salvaging books, heirlooms, mouldy items, photographs, textiles, currency and valuables. Other information pages include:

Mould damage

FEMA’s Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) Program (USA) has information about Removing Mould From Your Home.