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USWRF Women's Rugby History Project: Preserving Your Documents, Photos, and Clothing

Katherine (Kat) Aversano

Curator and Digital Project SME

The USWRF Women’s Rugby History Project has begun collecting and digitization materials from around the country. Not surprisingly, we are receiving documents in varied forms and, while some are well-preserved, others reflect years of storage in garages and attics, leaving material tattered or faded. While the USWRF Women’s Rugby History Project is focused on digitizing and archiving our history, we want to help preserve your documents and artifacts as well. This is a brief guide for how best to preserve the historical materials and memorabilia in your own home and a gentle reminder to share those documents with us so we can digitize and archive them for generations to come. Your documents and materials provide depth to this project and help create a richer context for the history of women’s rugby.

Documents and Photos

  • When handling documents and photos, wash your hands to avoid transferring oils to paper and photos

  • Separate newsprint and photos from other documents

  • Photos should be kept in clear polyester sleeves, one per sleeve

  • Store documents free of fasteners

  • All items should be kept in acid-free, lignin-free folders and inside acid-free boxes For reference, lignin yellows over time (like newspapers) and causes acid to reform over time as it degrades. To that end, both acid-free and lignin-free retain the life of what is being preserved.

  • Boxes should be stored free from dust, light, pests, and in a moderate temperature and humidity (not in an attic or garage)

You can find items specifically made to store archival materials online. Two reputable brands are Exposures and Gaylord Bros.

Finally, it is best to store your documents upright instead of stacking them on top of each other because their weight will damage the delicate paper or cause photos to stick together.


Most older rugby clothing is made out of cotton or polyester blends (jerseys, shorts, t-shirts, etc.). When preserving textiles, the storage should be clean, cool, dry, dark, and free from drastic temperature variation. Dust, dirt, blood, and other particles can eventually cut through fibers so wash and/or vacuum your items before storing.

  • Store items flat - if you cannot store them flat, fold or roll items so there are no harsh creases

  • If folded, place padding of old unbleached sheets or muslin at fold points

  • Avoid contact with wood, tissue, or wrapping paper (most paper is acidic and damaging to fabrics)

  • A good technique is to roll your fabric in clean, white, cotton cloth such as an old sheet or pillowcase

  • Place items in an unsealed plastic wrapping (if in a zip-lock bag, leave it unsealed)

  • Store items in a dark box or drawer

Periodically, remove the fabric item and inspect it. Make sure any folds are not refolded in the same way - this will relieve stress on the fabric over time. Ideally items should be stored in between 40-50% humidity and between 65-70 degrees in temperature.

The USWRF Women’s Rugby History Project is dependent upon the generosity of the rugby community. All documents sent to us will be inventoried, coded, digitized and returned to the owner. We will discuss shipping options to minimize content shift and damage during shipping.

We seek to preserve and build a vivid and accurate account of the growth of girls and women’s rugby in the United States. The history of women’s rugby provides valuable insight into the times – our history is part of the larger history of women’s sport, organizing, leadership, race and gender relations. We hope you’ll take a look in your attic, basement, garage and open that bin of old programs, photos, newsletters, song books, newspaper articles, t-shirts, jerseys and trophies. For many of you, those are treasured, personal memories but they are also part of a larger historical story; a story worth telling well.

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