Compact Archival Storage for 35mm Slides

Click….whirr….click….whirr….remember the distinct sound of a slide projector?   

35mm slides were a popular photographic format in the mid to late 20th century. Many people are familiar with the ritual of gathering in a darkened room for slideshows with family and friends. This short blog post discusses several options for archivally storing your 35mm slide collection. 

Most slide collections are stored in their original film processing boxes, in slideshow carousels, or loose in an old shoebox. None of these options are archival and they tend to take up a lot of space for such small images. 

Digitize Your Slides 

If you have the time and resources scan your slides or hire someone to scan them for you. The Photo Managers is a good place to start when looking for someone to digitize your collection. 

This way you have digital backups and can easily view and share the images with others using modern technologies. But we always recommend saving your original formats using archival materials.  

If you decide to digitize the slides yourself, be sure to clean them first. We recommend you wear powder-free nitrile gloves or cotton or nylon gloves when handling and cleaning the slides. Some slides might only need a light dusting with a microfiber cloth or a bulb blower. If there is gunk or mold on the slide you can use 98% isopropyl alcohol or another suitable cleaner. Do not use water as this can damage the emulsion. We sell Pec-12 Photographic Emulsion Cleaner but please note that this product needs to be used in a well-ventilated space.

Slide Storage Kits 

We offer two Slide Storage Kits that feature our Metal Edge Boxes. The smaller kit holds 1,200 slides in a Drop Front Box that is only 11-¾ x 15 x 3”. The larger kit holds 2,400 slides in a Short Top Box that is 12-½ x 15 x 5-¾”. Both kits come in black, tan, and gray options. Check out this brief video that compares the two slide kits.

Tan Slide Kit – 1200 (Item #07-062)

The outer box holds 35mm Slide Boxes that in turn hold Slide Tray Bins. Each bin holds 25 slides. The kit also comes with archival paper dividers for labeling. This “box-within-a-box-within-a-box” system makes the slides easy to manage, sort, organize, and label.  

Gray Slide Kit – 2400 (Item #07-2400-GY)

Use the divider labels to include valuable information such as dates, locations, special events, and names when you are organizing your slides. Some of this information can be found written on the slide boxes, carousel boxes, or the slide mounts. Remember to use a pencil or pen with archival ink any time you are adding notations to your collections. 

This Black Slide Kit – 1200 (Item #07-162) holds 1,200 35mm slides.

Binder Pages for Slide Storage 

One way to store your 35mm mounted slides is to put them in Archival Binder Pages inside an Archival Binder. If your slides are already in plastic binder pages, make sure it is an archival plastic. Our Print and Slide Pages are made of polypropylene which is safe for storing photographic collections. Vinyl and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) are not archival storage options!

Archival Polypropylene Slide Pages (Item #52-035) in a Tan Metal Edge Binder-in-Box (Item #06-001)

Our 35mm Slide Pages are made of archival polypropylene and hold 20 standard 35mm slides per page. A package of 50 will hold 1,000 slides. Our O-Ring Binder-in-Box and our 1-1/2″ D-Ring Binders will hold about 20 Slide Pages (400 slides) and the 2-1/2″ D-Ring Binders will hold about 35 Slide Pages (700 slides).

One advantage to using Slide Pages is that you can easily see each image using a light box or by holding the page up to a bright light. A disadvantage is that it takes more time to put each slide into a pocket, rather than storing them in our Slide Boxes. And they take up more storage space when stored in pages within a binder.

Vintage 35mm slides in polypropylene Slide Pages on a portable light box.

Suggestions for Small Slide Collections

We recently had a customer inquire about storing smaller collections of slides and also sorting by roll. We love hearing from our customers! These are great questions that we overlooked. Please contact us via phone or email if you have any questions or comments.

Some people have slides within a larger collection of print images. This is quite common with family archives that span decades or generations. We have a few options for storing smaller quantities of slides: Slide Pages, 35mm Slide Boxes, and Create-a-Kits.

Slide Pages

Slide Pages can be stored in an Archival Binder with other types of Archival Pages. You can mix and match to store a variety of sizes from 35mm Slides to 9-3/8 x 11″ items. And if you wish to keep entire rolls (often 24 or 36 exposures) sorted and together you can use the Slide Pages and leave some pockets empty if keeping them separate is important.

Our Stabilo-All Pencils write on plastic so you can make notations on the outside of the slide page. One thing to note is that the writing easily wipes off so be sure to do it in a place where you aren’t touching the page often. You can also add small notes to any empty pockets you leave.

35mm Slide Boxes

Among our line of archival Metal Edge Boxes are the 35mm Slide Boxes. These are the same boxes that come in the two Slide Storage Kits we offer. But they can be purchased separately in packages of three, which would hold about 600 cardboard mounted slide transparencies. Store slides in the boxes alone or add on Slide Tray Bins and Card Stock Dividers to help organize, separate, and label them.

Metal Edge 35mm Slide Boxes – Tan (Item #07-001-3)

If you want an outer box to hold the three Slide Boxes, the 3″ Drop Front Box #01-031 will accommodate them. Another alternative box that will hold 6 Slide Boxes is the Hinged Lid Box #02-008. This box, measuring 7-1/2 x 12-1/2 x 5-3/8” H, is akin in size to a shoe box so it might fit on your particular shelf better than the Slide Storage Kit-1200 which has a bigger footprint – 11-3/4 x 15 x 3” H.

Slide Tray Bins and Card Stock Slide Dividers (Items #07-002 + #07-2214)

Create-a-Kit

Create-a-Kits are listed under our Photo Storage Kits but they are designed to hold a wide variety of items in a collection. They come in small and large pre-made options or you can choose your own components based on your needs. If you have a small amount of slides among a larger mixed collection you could opt for this kit and just use Slide Tray Bins inside one of the Caddies.

I hope these suggestions have helped. Remember we are always happy to answer your questions via a phone or email.

[Updated: July 27, 2022]