By the 19th century the spread of printed material throughout Europe meant that Bibles, previously purchased only by the wealthy, were being mass-produced for the general public. As these contained blank pages at the front, people used them to record their family histories. The annotations included names, dates of birth and marriage records for family members. These records represent some of the first attempts to capture family history in books.
It was common for families to store important documents between the pages of Bibles, essentially using them as scrapbooks. The ‘scraps’ included birth certificates and obituaries, and other items with sentimental significance to the families. The advent of photography in the 1800s allowed the average person to include photographs in their scrapbooks along with memorabilia like newspaper clippings, letters, etc. Some Bibles contained portrait slots to store photographs – they were being used as family scrapbooks! Scrapbooking’s renewed popularity may be an adjunct to the genealogy craze.
Artfully arranged scrapbooks documenting family stories become treasured heirlooms to be passed on for generations. Typical memorabilia include photographs, printed media, and artwork. Scrapbook albums are often elaborately decorated and frequently contain extensive journaling or written descriptions. Basic materials include background papers, corner mounts, scissors, a paper trimmer or cutting tool, art pens, archival pens for journaling, and mounting glues. More elaborate designs require more specialised tools such as die cut templates, rubber stamps, craft punches, stencils, inking tools, embossing tools and personal die cut machines. Electronic die-cutting machines resembling a plotter with a drag knife enable scrappers to use their computer to create die cuts from any shape or font with the use of free or third party software. Accessories referred to as “embellishments” used to decorate scrapbook pages include stickers, stamps, eyelets, brads, shapes, alphabet letters, lace, wire, fabric, beads, sequins and ribbon.
In addition to a collection of photographs, tickets, postcards, and other memorabilia, journaling is often a principal element in modern scrapbooks. Journaling is text describing or accenting the photographs. Contemporary journaling may include song lyrics, quotations and poems. Journaling has recently taken off across Australia and many journalers use scrapbooking less to preserve memories and more to stylishly plan their days. Some people like to journal on their computer, printing their thoughts onto a variety of surfaces including vellum, tape, ribbon, and paper.
Want to learn more?
Scrapbooking classes are available at Amaroo Neighbourhood House on the first Saturday of the month, 1pm–3pm
Dr Clay Routledge, a leading expert in the feelings of nostalgia, says albummaking groups can make people feel more positive and connected. “Nostalgia has a restorative function and helps people feel inspired and optimistic about the future,” says Dr Routledge. “When people are creating albums, they are actively engaging in a nostalgic exercise which focuses their attention and motivation on social goals and interests.” There are many YouTube videos showing how it’s all done but, locally, scrapbooking classes are available at Amaroo Neighbourhood House on the first Saturday of the month, 1pm–3pm (see Community Notices p.50).