Sally J Practical Archivist


I'm Sally J,

the Practical Archivist

and I'm here to tell you that you have too many photos.

Yes, really.

Since 1997,  I've been teaching non-archivists how to take better care of unique family treasures inherited from earlier generations. Another way to put it is that I help "accidental archivists" figure out what to do with the ancestor letters, photos, diaries, uniforms, wedding gowns, clippings, quilts, (etc.) that have been entrusted to their care. 

I love the preservation side of what I teach.

That's why every year in October during Archives Month / Family History Month -- but only in October -- I run a micro archival supply business out of my house. That's when I sell what my family refers to as The Big Kit, but officially it's called the Family Archivist Survival Kit (FASK)

First, some background. My Family Archivist Survival Kit contains three different kinds of boxes: a flip-top manuscript box, an oversize flat box and a shoebox like box. Each is outfitted with the correct size folders, enough but not too many.

Simple, right?

If you said yes, you probably haven't ever run your own business.

A few years back, I changed the color of the boxes in my Family Archivist Survival Kit from black to tan. Nothing wrong with the way the black boxes looked, they were gorgeous! No, the problem was that whenever the black boxes was on back-order, it sometimes took months before they are available again.

You can probably guess what happened...

Yep. I got stuck with half-finished kits stashed all over our house for a very. long. time. That was one Big Blunder, and I've learned that every year I do this I make at least one of 'em.

The next' blunder was when I learned that the metal edges for one of the three tan boxes was a different color. Yours truly didn't notice that kinda sorta important fact until 24 of them showed up on my doorstep. Cost to ship them back to the supplier? Hundreds of dollars. Hun-der-eds.


"I can sell these by themselves!"

...and that's how Practical Archivist's Photo De-Clutter Kit was born.

I'm not kidding.

You really DO have too many photos.


Sorry to be so blunt, but you're crazy to waste resources -- whether it's the time it takes to scan or the money it costs to purchase proper archival supplies -- on photographs your future descendants won't care about. It won't take many generations before a family photo collection that fills up and entire closet starts feeling more like a burden than a blessing. Fortunately, it's easy to slim down the size of your color photo prints.

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about ancestor photos like your great grandparents on their wedding day. As a family archivist you need to respect both age and scarcity, which means you'd be crazy *not* to invest resources to help those family history treasures last as long as possible.


NO. I'm talking about the gazillion photos you snapped between 1950 and 1990. Including the "blow off" shots at the end of the roll. You remember those, right? Back in the days before you could see your photo seconds after shooting it, the wait could be torture. I bet we're all guilty of taking at least a few dumb shots to fill up a roll.



DeClutter Your Photos Like An Archivist is a Practical Archivist product that is focused less on the preservation side of what I teach and more on the other side of what I teach: Getting rid of everything that's not worth keeping long term.

You still need to apply the preservation lessons to the keepers, but this product is all about tackling the drek first. 


Here's the thing:

We all love our favorite photographs
...and that's exactly as it should be

The problem is that we allow that deep, intense love to leak over into the entire format "photograph" -- regardless of the actual content of that specific photograph. That's why I never teach preservation without pointing out the one secret every archivist knows, but most people ignore when it comes to photographs:

You can't keep everything. 


But I have good news for you!

It's going to be much easier than you think to ditch the  photo clutter you've been holding onto.

The key is to review it all, because seeing everything together allows you to easily spot the treasures and let go of the photo "drek"



You wanna know what clutter really is?

Postponed. Decisions.

Seriously, that's it. 


Your Photo De-Clutter kit comes with a CD chock-full of archival know how so you can:

  • Let go of the photo clutter you don't need but you've kept for years -> Maybe you thought all photos have the same value, or maybe they were tucked away out of sight and you kind of forgot about them. Either way, it's time to lighten your load. This is soooo much easier than you think, I promise.

  • Figure out a good place to start your photo organizing project -> I know for a fact that not knowing how or where to start keeps people from attempting this utterly do-able project. That's why I created a Prioritization Matrix that will help you choose between multiple possible starting points.

  • Preserve your "keeper" photos and other family treasures -> Yes, I know this kit is all about de-cluttering. But I simply can't help it. Besides, you need to know what to do with the keepers, right? This module will help you extend the life of your photos and other family heirlooms like letters, gowns, quilts, and family bibles. Did you know that some products labeled "photo safe" will actually damage your photos? Sad but true. Now you can stop worrying about whether you're taking proper care of these treasures or not. I'm even throwing in a free bonus copy of Guide to Collections Care from my preferred archival vendor, Gaylord. This is where you'll get help with bulkier items like quilts and bibles.

  • Write down the stories behind your photos -> Add real value to the photographs you hand down to future generations by writing down the stories behind them. I teach a simple writing method specifically designed for people who think they can't write, or are afraid to write. This is not about winning writing awards. This is about using your natural storytelling voice to...well, to tell the stories of your life. Nobody else can do this for you. "The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory."

  • Safely scan your photo treasures -> Create a digital archive of your most treasured prints, slides and film. Bring those vintage beauties into the 21st Century where it's easy to share them with family and friends. Best of all, I'm going to steer you away from the common mistakes people make when they scan photos.

All the De-Cluttering Tips and Encouragement You Need 

Plus Archival Know-How,

Tools & Supplies



$98 + $19 S&H
New Lower Price!

$92 + $19 S&H





Detailed List of Everything In DeClutter Your Photos Like An Archivist Kit:

      • Storage for up to 1,000 photos 5x7 inches and smaller in the safest possible materials:
        • Shoebox-style tan box manufactured without any glue that could leech acids into your photos some day. A nice bonus of the metal edges is they provide stacking strength. More importantly, this box has passed the Photographic Activity Test or PAT, an independent third party test that's the only reliable way to know your storage materials will not cause damage to your photographs over time.
          Dimensions: Box is 5.5 x 7.5 x 12 inches

        • 50 PAT Passed paper envelopes that can hold up to 36 prints as well as 36 negatives in strips.
          Dimensions: Envelopes are 4.81 x 7.25 inches 

        • 25 PAT Passed envelopes that are more like sleeves and hold a single image. Use these for special images you want to scan, write the story behind the photo in pencil on the empty envelope.
          Dimensions: Sleeves are 5.5 x 7.38"

      • Pair of white cotton gloves

      • Stabilo All pencil to safely mark the back of photos that have a plastic coating

      • Soft #1 pencil to safely mark the back of photos that have an un-coated paper backing

      • Microspatula to help you remove photos from sticky magnetic albums, among other things.

      • CD chock full of advice and how-to in plain English (see the "What You Will Learn" section above for more details)

      • Print version of my popular 8 Blunders People Make When They Scan Photos....And How To Avoid Them.


    DeClutter Your Photographs Like an Archivist
    Everything you need in one box,
    shipped directly to your door.

    $98 + $19 S&H
    New Lower Price!

    $92 + $19 S&H





                               ...I've heard them all, believe me

    • But every photograph is an important document of my life! Er, sorry. Gonna have to call horse feathers on that one. If you were born before 1980 you know exactly what I mean when I talk about the "blow off" shots at the end of a roll of film. If you were born after 2000, like my kids, it's hard to believe there was a Dark Ages when you couldn't immediately see your photo as soon as you snapped the picture. Nope. You had to wait until you had taken all 24 or 36 shots on the roll. Then you had to rewind the film back into its canister and drop it off at the processor. Only after the shop was done processing it and you came back to pick them up could you see the photos you had taken. No surprise, then, if the last few shots were of just about anything if you were particularly impatient. 

    And that's just one kind of photo clutter you've been hanging onto. There's also the almost shots, the totally missed shots, the blurry ones, the ones of the inside of the lens cap, the ones of people you can no longer remember.

    Over there on the right is a box of my own prints that I de-cluttered a while back.

    You can see how many photos of mine were either unfocused, on some inanimate object I didn't care about, or showed people I honestly couldn't remember ever knowing or meeting. Those are the ones that are circled in yellow.

    It was astonishingly easy to get rid of these photos. To be honest, I was surprised by how much I got done in a single quick pass!! There were other photos in that box I eventually got rid of, but I needed a little more time to make those selections.

    You know what clutter is? Postponed decisions. Don't wait to make these simple decisions any longer.

    • But I have room to keep every photograph! And even if you currently have room to hold every single photo you've ever taken (whether it fills a shoebox or a bookcase) there's no way your descendants will want to keep all of it. In other words, you can make the decisions now and get it down to a decent size yourself, or throw up your hands and hope the people who clean out your house will find the time to go through all those boxes and do the sorting then. Experience tell me this is the worst time to make decisions like that. 

    DeClutter Your Photographs Like an Archivist
    Everything you need in one box,
    shipped directly to your door.

    $98 + $19 S&H
    New Lower Price!

    $92 + $19 S&H