Scrapbooks: Reflections of the Past

In a collaborative effort, Tim Pouch and Jenn Nichols worked to create finding aids for the MSS 093 Commonplaces, Albums and Scrapbooks collection. They are both graduate students in the MA in Historic Preservation and the Museum Studies Certificate programs. This internship experience was in conjunction with Dr. Theresa Snyder’s MSST 602 Curatorship and Management of Archives and Paper Collections.

MSS 093 Commonplaces, Albums and Scrapbooks is an artificial collection; acquiring it began under the leadership of Nat Puffer,  former Associate  University Librarian  for Collections. The scrapbooks that we encountered in this collection  primarily dated  from the mid-nineteenth to the early-twentieth centuries.

The goals of our project were to review the scrapbooks and create concise descriptions based on their content.  The information we gathered about the scrapbooks was then entered into an MS Word template that is used to generate the EAD-XML code.

Trends that were apparent to us include holiday cards, prayer cards, visiting cards, newspaper and magazine clippings, and scraps depicting flowers, children, animals, cherubs and landmarks. The compositions of these scrapbooks ranged from thematic to eclectic arrangements. This collection offers researchers an abundance of potential sources of social history and examples of print culture.

Ladies’ fashions in the period of the day can be seen in many of these scrapbooks.

from CAS 046 Clara Agnes Boulter mid-nineteenth century scrapbook from the American South

from CAS 011.2 Traveler’s Scrapbook

Trade cards were a popular form of advertising ephemera often included in these albums, many representative of the early history of modern companies.

from CAS 043 Ella Harris’ scrap album

from CAS 011.2 Traveler’s scrapbook

Since many of the scrapbooks were created either by or specifically for children, they naturally have many images that would appeal to young audiences, such as animals, flowers and cherubs.

from CAS 001 Children’s scrapbook belonging to “A.R.”

from CAS 11 British teen’s scrapbook

from CAS 009 Early twentieth-century British children’s scrapbook

It has been our unique privilege to work with Special Collections Manuscripts and Archives Department on this project. We hope that our contributions to the processing of these scrapbooks help to further the creation of online finding aids for this collection. We look forward to seeing these finding aids available for use by the University and independent researchers.

Jennifer M Nichols

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