History of Scrapbooking

I was recently looking at some of the books the friends of the library had for sale.

I came across Scrapbooking Your Favorite Family Memories. This book was published in in 2002, at the height of a renewed scrapbooking movement that started in the early 1990’s.

As a scrapbooker, who began this hobby in 2003, finding this book was very nostalgic for me. Paper scrapbook albums are not as popular as they were in 2003, in fact today the industry is in a decline with so many digital ways to share memories. There is a long history of taking ephemera, photos, or memorabilia and saving them in a scrapbook.

One of the first examples of scrapbooking would be common place books. This is basically a system of writing down thoughts, quotes, stories, experiences, and drawings. One might have included a pressed flower, a piece of fabric, or other sentimental items that could be made small enough to place in the book.

John Locke, a philosopher, who started making his own common place books in 1652 wrote a book titled, A New Method of Making Common Place Books. This was an intricate system of organizing ones book. Common Place books are still used, some use them as planners, or a Bullet Journal. Still, others just like to grab a notebook and just put whatever they fancy on the pages.

There is no wrong way to keep a common place book, it is a wonderful method to write and keep thought and memories. This type of memory keeping is still very relevant and useful today.

Common Place Book
Common Place Book

John Lock’s New Method

In the early 1800’s many young women would keep friendship albums filled with writings, clipping of hair, and ephemera of the time. Many families used their bible as way to preserve their history. Noting dates of marriages, births, and deaths. This was also a time when calling card albums were very fashionable. These were albums filled with the cards friends would send to one another with dates for visiting one another. Their pages were filled with beautiful social cards.

Friendship Album
Family Bible
Calling Card Album

The person who really put the modern scrapbook on the map was Mark Twain. Yes, the Adventures of Tom Sawyers author Mark Twain. He was an avid scrapbooker and created the self pasting scrapbook. Twain who was tired of gluing and pasting all of his memorabilia and ephemera and created the first self adhering album pages. This was a big hit and started a new wave of scrapbooking.

Mark Twains
Self Pasting Book
Mark Twains
Scrap book patent

Thomas Jefferson’s Scrapbook

In 1880 a book by E.W. Gurley was written titled, Scrapbooks and How to Make Them. In this book he notes how Thomas Jefferson loved to scrapbook poems he clipped from newspapers. He appreciated good poetry and would keep his scrapbook on his bedside table so he could refer to it often. He also loved to clip articles about himself and his presidency. On page 4 of Gurley’s book he asks, “Who should scrapbook?” He answers, “anyone who reads.”

Other titles of interest:

Modern Memory Keeper
The Bullet Journal Method
Scrapbooks: an American history

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