Saving Memories: All About Scrapbooking

By: Francesca Fiori

Scrapbooking consists of preserving personal and familial history in the form of a book containing memorabilia, including photographs, pages from magazines or newspapers, and artwork. Hobbyists typically decorate each scrapbook with various arts and crafts materials. In addition, most scrapbooks contain extensive journal entries that explain the event depicted on each theme page. Scrapbooking has become a widely practiced hobby extending centuries along the ancestral tree.

Scrapbooking began in the early 15thcentury with the emergence of commonplace books. Commonplace books were used to store recipes, quotations, letters, poems, photographs, and more. Each commonplace book served as a creative outlet for hobbyists with a particular interest. As a result, like-minded individuals created niche-specific books that enabled others to share as a form of entertainment. In the 16th century, friendship albums became popular, and closely resembled the yearbooks of the modern era. Each friendship album was exchanged among friends, where the receiving party autographed, illustrated, and wrote customized messages relevant to the bond between the owner and the scribe. Oftentimes the owner would use the friendship album to create a page dedicated to independent travels, which may have contained souvenirs relevant to the places he or she visited. In 1175, James Granger authored a historical textbook of England with enough blank pages at the end of the book to personalize it according to the owner's personal experience and perspective of the country.

Since the advent of photography during the 1880s, people started to use paper photographs to decorate objects, such as scrapbooks. Old scrapbooks had photographs mounted to the corners of each scrapbook with a notation explaining who was in the photo, and where, when, why it was taken. Other memorabilia included newspaper and magazine clippings, personal letters, and customized decorations made from an assortment of materials. Modern scrapbook enthusiasts have either stuck with the traditional method of creating their own projects, or converted to more digital formats. Most scrapbook hobbyists model the same formula that their ancestors used to preserve records of the family lineage.

Scrapbook History

  • A Scrapbook Timeline: As the name implies, an educational resource providing the evolution of scrapbooking starting with the Ancient Greek and Roman Empires to the establishment of Creative Memories, a direct sales company that produced scrapbook materials during the late 1980s.
  • Scrapbooks, the Collecting of Creative Ideas: The Public Broadcasting System (PBS)-sponsored classroom module providing activities for groups of students to use when learning about the art of scrapbooking, including examples of archaic journal entries of family trees.
  • The History of Scrapbooking (PDF): A concise time line revealing the origins of scrapbooking and the development of the hobby over the centuries within the United States.
  • History and Conservation of Albums and Photographically Illustrated Books (PDF): An abstract paper detailing the history behind the conversation of genealogy through the family photo albums.
  • Commonplace Books FAQs: A compilation of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about commonplace books, the precursor to modern day scrapbooks.
  • The History of Scrapbooking: A brief article describing the transition from commonplace books to the traditional scrapbook, including granger books and friendship albums as transitory periods between both.

How to Make Scrapbooks

  • Make a Scrapbook for Your Grandkids: A general guideline for grandparents looking to create a scrapbook for their grandchildren, including instructions on how to get started, and tips for finishing the job.
  • Make a Mini-Scrapbook (PDF): A step-by-step how-to tutorial on creating mini scrapbooks, specifically for 4-h Cloverbuds.
  • 4-H Scrapbooking (PDF): A set of instructions and guidelines for completing 4-H Scrapbooking projects, including an all-inclusive materials, tools, and glossary list to help facilitate a quality outcome.
  • Media Alliance: How to Make a Scrapbook (PDF): This short introduction guides a newcomer to creating a scrapbook using the minimal amount of materials on-hand.

Digital Scrapbooks

Scrapbook Examples, Ideas, and Tips

  • How to Scrapbook: Ideas: A small profile for different scrapbook layout designs, including photo mosaics, sanding, brads, binges, page pockets, stamping with bleach, and hand stitching.
  • Scrapbooking Video Tips: A video compilation of various tutorials teaching beginner scrapbook hobbyist’s different methods for nicer looking projects.
  • Scrapbook Your Scouting Memories: An example of non-ancestral scrapbook project dealing with a child's summer experience in the Boy Scouts.
  • Scrapbook Ideas: American Scrapbook, Co. provides a collection of scrapbook ideas for the avid photo collage enthusiast.
  • Using Scrapbooks in Science (PDF): An extensive document providing information on how to use scrapbooks for science-related projects, including sample scrapbook assignments, example of scrapbook entries, and instructional/strategies to building a science-related scrapbook.
  • End of Year Ideas (PDF): An authoritative resource guide to building a yearbook, and related ideas to decorate it aesthetically to the pleasing eye.
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