Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First Do No Harm

Life's little changes. Are you keeping track of what's good for you one day and not the next? Did you notice that one week coffee was bad for you, and then you read the next week it could lower your risk of Parkinson's disease and diabetes, as well as colon cancer?

Are you sitting down?

Just when I had been trained to handle my photographs while wearing white gloves, white gloves are no longer the preferred method. And naturally, that was just after I blogged there was no debate here.
Caution, wear those white gloves, baby, when you handle photographs. Here there is no debate.
Then I received an email from Maureen Taylor saying that she had some new information. While writing her latest book Preserving Family Memories (excellent by the way) she had met with two conservators who said that the use of white gloves is now debatable. "Either wash and dry your hands thoroughly and handle photos by the edges OR wear disposable non-latex examination gloves." The gloves are the preferred method as they give a better grip than white gloves that are the cause of many slips.

I just received my copy of Preserving Your Family Photographs and it's there in black and white on page 28:

"The best precaution is to handle photographs by the edges while wearing disposable exam gloves. They are available at most pharmacies."

I have my new gloves and must admit, they are a much better fit and I have a 1,000 times less trouble handling things. It would be MY opinion, however, that if all you have are white gloves I would use them rather than bare hands. That is MY opinion.

So the creed of all family historians and photograph collectors should be -

Primum non nocere
"First, do no harm"


Blogger Unknown said...

I assume the non-powder disposable non-latex examination gloves would be perferred --- the powder helps putting the gloves on and off but would leave a residue. The white gloves has been my choice but they were cotton sanitized whites liked used in chemistry cases. You can get the non-powder disposable non-latex examination gloves with kind of ridged fingers to help with the slipping. But they do take a little getting use to wearing. Good call!

March 10, 2010 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

I have to admit that I've been fussing at my Mom for the last two months - "Those photos are really old Mom, you should be using gloves"... "too late for that" she tells me "they've been handled by everyone before us"... do no (further) harm is my motto. I've been following your recent posts with much interest and surely we all know to have clean (super clean, really dry, no touching our oily faces) hands - but nothing compares to having something between your skin and the photos so I'm with you, wear the gloves. White cotton or examination - whatever is the recommendation or preference. It doesn't mean that my clean hands aren't good enough but certainly makes me feel better!

March 10, 2010 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

First, I'm allergic to Latex, so thank goodness non-latex. I use non-powder. I haven't used the ridged, so I must check them out.

And I'm with you Cindy, it makes me feel better.

Thank you both.


March 10, 2010 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger The Photo Detective said...

I agree with FM--wear something on your hands when handling photos be it non-latex (no powder please) examination gloves or cotton ones.

BTW--I'm glad you like the book FM!

It's available on :)

March 10, 2010 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Joan Miller (Luxegen) said...

Great article!

Flat end forceps would work too. We used forceps in the lab for handling sensitive electrophoresis membranes that would have been contaminated by skin contact. Source? Perhaps your local cosmetic counter or a scientific supply house. The ones I like are made by Biorad.

March 10, 2010 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


As always another wonderful photographic resource. I own all your books and use them almost every day.

The links to Preserving Family Memories on Amazon are active in the article.

OK, my friends, you can't go wrong with this book, so go take a look.


March 10, 2010 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


Thank you for the tip. I have a set and purchased them on Amazon. I use them for removing cabinet cards and CDVs from albums.

I cover the tips because I'm known for exerting more pressure than necessary.


March 10, 2010 at 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Michael Scheerer said...

Great article.
I've used powder free rubber gloves for non-sterile Healthcare and Dentistry and know how comfortable it is.

March 29, 2010 at 2:05 AM  

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