Saturday, May 7, 2011

May Is National Scrapbooking Month - Today Is National Scrapbooking Day

Marry the two fastest growing avocations and what do you have? Heritage Scrapbooking. But just as your family has history, so does the pastime of scrapbooking.

SCRAPBOOKS An American History
Jessica Helfand

One only has to look at these scrapbooks to realize that history isn't what historians tell us.

~ Jessica Helfand ~

Scrapbooks by Jessica Helfand examines scrapbooks from the nineteenth century to the present, concentrating particularly on the first half of the twentieth century. The book is filled with color photographs from more than 200 scrapbooks; some made by private individuals and others by the famous, including: Zelda Fitzgerald, Lillian Hellman, Anne Sexton, Hilda Doolittle and Carl Van Vechten.

This book is so fascinating, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to put it down. I am so taken with the hundreds of examples of yesterday's scrapbooks, their brush with history, their tangible examples of real life. The scrapbooking of yesterday seems so far removed from that of today; they're not a contrived version of history or life. And yes, green!

These scrapbooks of old are filled with the bits and pieces of their authors' lives. Ticket stubs, torn letters, stamps, fabric, string, and a thousand things we throw out on a daily basis.

There are several scrapbooks shown with very inventive themes. I was particularly drawn to the scrapbook of locks of hair. My husband's family has a photo album filled with locks of a cherished child's hair. A child who died young and tragically. Do we still collect locks of hair? I don't know anyone who does. The album of monograms, once a very prevalent part of life, was graphically beautiful.

Modern day scrapbookers can draw on some of the more inventive ideas and incorporate them in today's themes. F. Scott Fitzgerald's mother had a scrapbook page of his signature at different ages, starting at five. What a brilliant idea! I am going to do this for my grandson's.

Of this project the author, Jessica Helfand tells us:

This project percolated in my brain (and my sketchbooks) for years until I realized that scrapbooks were simply visual autobiographies filled with stories waiting to be told. I am fascinated with the degree to which non-visual people felt, for whatever reason, compelled to keep these remarkably visual records of their lives. Its a chapter in American history (and in graphic design history) that has not been told: in my book I call it outsider art with insider knowledge. It's raw and primitive and heartbreaking and real, and if it bears little if any resemblance to contemporary scrapbooking, it's probably because a generation ago, people made things from the detritus of their lives: they rescued things, saved and savored them, and pasted them in the pages of books. And therein lies the scrapbook's particular and enduring magic.

Jessica also authors a blog called The Daily Scrapbook with beautiful examples of some of the scrapbooks she's collected.

This richly illustrated book is the first to focus on the history of American scrapbooks — their origins, their makers, their diverse forms, the reasons for their popularity, and their place in American culture. I loved it!

Take a look at this beautiful book and draw inspiration from the scrapbookers of old.

You might also be interested in:
Web Wandering Wednesday
Scrapbooks Of Old

Shades gives it:

A four out of four camera rating - Recommended Buy.


Blogger norwoodcj said...

I love this post about scrapbooks! I have been scrapbooking seriously since 1997. I love it.

By the way, my mother saved locks of hair for all 3 of her daughters from when we got our first haircut. I still have mine. I was born in 1954. I also did the same thing with my 2 boys and still have their locks of hair too.

I have also been saving yearly writings of my granddaughter. I save her annual letter to Santa also. They are so cute. For some reason she always draws pictures in them which I absolutely adore.

I also have an album I call "Nonnie's Album". It's about my journey into "grandmotherhood". I write a letter to my granddaughter once a year - on her birthday. I talk about her accomplishments over the past year and about my hopes and dreams for her future.

This book "Scrapbooks" sounds great. I'll have to get it!

May 7, 2011 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

You are the woman I aspire to be. I'm not nearly as organized as you.

I've also been recording my grandchildren's voices so that when they're adults they will know what they sounded like as a child.


May 7, 2011 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I save locks of hair. I have my mother's braid from when she cut her very long hair and hair from myself and my children. Not in an organized way, just in a drawer. I have my grandmother's scrap book. She pasted recipes, poems, newspaper article...sometimes on top of each other. she was a very neat person in the real world but her scrapbook is a jumbled collage of papers.

May 9, 2011 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

I love old scrapbooks! The hair, well, I always like to know where it came from. I bought a very old dictionary on eBay and it had a huge lock of hair in it. Yuck!


May 9, 2011 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger Patti Browning said...

Ah yes, hair scrapbooks!

My g-g-grandmother Eliza did this from 1859-1863 or so and I am very lucky to have the book in my possession. I even did a post about it on my blog at:

Learning that other people did this too is so wonderful!

May 9, 2011 at 8:32 PM  

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