The History of Scrapbooking, written by Diane Dueweke
On May 2 we celebrate National Scrapbook Day. Are you keeping a journal during this time of COVID-19 or scrapbooking your family activities while staying at home? Are you taking photos that document the closed businesses, stores and deserted streets? If you are doing any of these things, you are preserving memories and history while taking part in an activity that has been practiced for many years.
In 16th century England, many people kept “commonplace books.” These were bound journals of blank pages, which housed hand-written letters, poems recipes and quotes. They were used to organize and prioritize information, often following a theme such as religion or nature.
“Friendship albums” were used when company visited. The visitor was asked to sign the book and include something personal such as a poem, a quote or even their thoughts about the homeowner.
Bibles were used by families to record significant events such as births, weddings and deaths. It was not unusual for families to store news clipping or documents between the pages of the family Bible. These treasured tomes were passed down through the generations, preserving a family’s history.
The actual art of “scrapbooking” dates back nearly 200 years and had its beginnings in 1826 when a book of poems and engravings entitled, Manuscript Gleanings, was published by James Poole. The book encouraged the collection of “scraps” and provided instruction on what to do with them. These scraps consisted of poems, calling cards and paper clippings. Scrapbooking was used to express one’s thoughts and feelings and to preserve family stories. Love letters, advertisements, newspaper clippings and other ephemera were collected and stored in books that were specifically designed to hold these cherished items. As interest in this hobby increased, products that could be cut and pasted to enhance the albums were produced and sold.
In 1872, Mark Twain, also a scrapbook aficionado, invented and patented Mark Twain’s Adhesive Scrapbook with pre-pasted pages to facilitate the collection of scraps.
The advent of photography expanded the methods used by people to store their family memories. Leather bound albums, with pockets to hold photographs and pages for pencil drawings and water color paintings, were produced. The 1888 introduction of Kodak film and the camera led to the collection of family and personal photographs in scrapbooks.
Replaced by photo albums, the popularity of scrapbooking declined in the early 1900s through the 1940s. However, it re-emerged with a whole new style in the 1980’s.
In 1976 Marilee Christensen began making creative pages to store her family photos. She put these pages in sheet protectors and stored them in three ring binders. By 1980, Marilee had made 50 volumes of family memories. She was asked to share her books at the World Conference of Records in Salt Lake City, Utah. The public became immediatelyinterested in “memory books" and Marilee started teaching classes and giving seminars. Marilee and her husband wrote the first how-to book on scrapbooking (Keeping Memories Alive) and later opened the first scrapbook supply store in Spanish Fork, Utah. By 1994 demand for her products required a larger location and a way to reach a growing audience. As a result, Keeping Memories Alive was the first company to launch an internet site. Within a decade, scrapbooking became one of the fastest growing hobbies in the U.S.; gaining popularity worldwide and becoming a multi-million-dollar industry.
The following excerpt from a Women’s World article speaks to the modern approach: “Although modern scrapbooking still includes photos, love letters, and newspaper clippings the way the items are displayed has changed. Scrap-bookers can now choose from a wide variety of scrapbook albums. Layouts include backgrounds, matted photos, and interesting papers and embellishments.” Each page is carefully designed, resulting in a work of art.
By 2004, scrapbooking moved into the digital age with desktop publishing, digital cameras, scanners and the internet.
Scrapbooking also became a social hobby with scrapbook groups, parties, cruises and retreats available to serious scrap-bookers and friends.
The Crocker House Museum has several scrapbooks in its collection including family specific books, the Nelson Family Circus, 1880 Programs from Mount Clemens, Macomb Council for the Performing Arts, and a scrapbook from the 1970s dedicated to articles on early Macomb County history. You will find photos below from three of these books and ascrapbook I found in an antique store
Scrapbooks and journals are a way to document and preserve your history and cherished moments. Why don’t you give it a try? Your memories will be a source of joy and wonder to future generations.
Women’s World, Scrapbooking History
Everything About Scrapbooking, for Beginners
The Scrapbook in American Life, Susan Tucker, Katherine Ott, and Patricia P. Buckler
Pages from the Macomb Council for the Performing Arts
A young girl in the 1880s collected programs in this scrapbook
A Book of Remembrance compiled by Sabin Cocker in 1971
A Detroit woman collected movie start photos 1930-1940s
You Can Be a Part of History
Now its your turn to record history as its happening. The Society is actively documenting the impact of COVID-19 on Macomb County.
You can help us educate future generations with your documentation of your experience while living during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine. Your documentations will allow the Society to share your history with people living 100 years from now.
Every story is important. The Society is seeking individuals and organizations from all walks of life, different backgrounds and cultures. Perspectives from a retired couple or school-aged child are just as important as those from front-line health care workers. Teachers or supervisors could also make this an engaging group project!
Please fill in the form below to let us know that you are contributing to our archive. We greatly appreciate your help.
There is also an interesting article below about the history of scrapbooking to help inspire you. Enjoy!