Scrapbooking: Keep Your Memories Alive Through Visual Storytelling

Scrapbooking has been around longer than photography, and it’s essentially storytelling with more than just words.

Using things like photos, artifacts, tangible memories, and more, scrapbooks are a way to document memories. 

The Origins of Scrapbooking

Diaries, journals, and other forms of record-keeping have been around since before the 15th century. Bibles are a prime example of this, as they are the earliest recorded use of family record-keeping with births, deaths, marriages, and other important dates being recorded. In the late 1700s, extra-illustrating books became popular, where books had extra pockets, drawing places, and scrap holders. And literal scraps of newspaper were collected for the 1839 book “American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses.” During the 1800s, books of scraps became more popular, and blank notebooks began being filled with scraps of memories, such as clippings, cards, printed memorabilia, and a mix of sketches and journal entries. It’s also when the word scrapbook first came to be used, believed to be in 1821 and then as a verb in 1879.

By the 1850s, when photographs called visit cards became popular as a way of trading photos with friends and family, the first true scrapbooks were created. In 1872, famous author Mark Twain invented the self-adhesive scrapbook, which became widely popular. The 1900s brought recipe scrapbooks, where family recipes became a way to pass down family history. It also brought the invention of the Brownie camera, which led to people taking their own, now more casual photos and boosting the use of scrapbooking for everyday people. In 1981, the first store devoted to scrapbooking was opened and many more continued to open throughout the end of the 20th century.  With the invention of social media, digital scrapbooking became very popular. Today, there are many ways to create a scrapbook.

Getting Started with Scrapbooking

Anyone and everyone can scrapbook. Even President Thomas Jefferson scrapbooked! To get started, you can contact a professional scrapbooker, ask a friend that scrapbooks, or venture out into the vast abyss of supplies on your own. Stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby carry an extensive selection of supplies.

All it really takes though, is a blank book, some glue, and the things you want to save in your scrapbook. Decide on a theme and then plan out each page before you commit to gluing items down. Get creative with your layout, and leave some space to tell your story with captions or brief journal entries. After the main items are glued down and the areas for text created, you can add fun colors, embellishments, and decor if you want. Pinterest is a great place to generate helpful design ideas.

To get fancier, you can take classes or buy embellishments to add to your album. If you aren’t crafty, you can use online software to help create a digital scrapbook or photo printing companies and create an album that way. There are even parties, retreats, and other get-togethers held by women who love to scrapbook. The possibilities are endless, and you’re only limited to your imagination – and maybe your budget. 

Keeping Memories Alive

While the technology available and the techniques have certainly changed since scrapbooks first arrived on the scene, the desire to tell stories hasn’t, and recording history will always be an important thing to leave to future generations. Doing this with meaningful expression makes it even more valuable.