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Save Your Family Treasures

Save Your Family Treasures

Fact Sheets

Additional Resources

FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution co-sponsor the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a partnership of more than 60 national service organizations and federal agencies created to protect cultural heritage from the damaging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies.

The Task Force offers the following guidance to help you recover your family treasures from a disaster.

Steps to Save Your Family Treasures

With a little patience and prompt action, saving cherished photographs, letters, paintings and other irreplaceable objects is possible. These step-by-step instructions will help you stabilize your treasured objects and buy you time to make an educated decision on further treatment and handling of your family mementos.


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Documents and Papers

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Fact Sheets

When lives are upended by a flood, hurricane, tornado or fire, treasured possessions such as family heirlooms, photos and other keepsakes become more cherished. The Heritage Emergency National Task Force offers these basic guidelines from professional conservators for those who are searching for — and finding — family treasures amid the ruins.

After the Fire: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures

After the Flood: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures

Salvaging Water-Damaged Family Valuables and Heirlooms

Additional Resources

Since 1995, the Task Force has been providing individuals and the cultural community – museums, libraries, archives, arts organizations, records offices and more – with guidance and technical assistance before, during and after disasters.

A wealth of resources exist on the Task Force website, including the following:

For more information about protecting cultural heritage threatened or affected by disasters — in the United States and abroad — visit the website of our partner, the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative.