What is a Scrapbook?
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last few centuries and don’t know what a scrapbook is, this is it: Basically, it’s just a book full of stuff. What stuff? Anything you can think of. To most people, it’s a hobby of making collages full of writings, pictures, drawings or even ticket stubs, airplane tickets and museum passes. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea of scrapbooking as childish or unimportant.
Scrapbooking, on the surface, is a simple creative outlet. But, on a deeper level, it’s a way of recording our histories or notable events in our lives. Scrapbooks are a great way to express yourself or show others who you are and where you’ve been. Today scrapbooking is a multi-billion-dollar industry. There are scrapbooking clubs, blogs, etc. and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in the near future.
When did Scrapbooking Start?
A “scrap” used to be how you refer to a picture that is unmounted. People kept entire books full of unmounted pictures and those were, literally, the first scrapbooks. Scrapbooking is not a phenomenon that came about recently. Though not in their current form, the idea of scrapbooking has been around for centuries. The first scrapbooks were in use as far back as 1598.
Scrapbooks gained prominence during the Renaissance. These precursors of the modern day scrapbook were called ‘commonplace books’. Hamlet writes in one saying: “Smile and smile and be a villain.” John Locke, the philosopher, highlighted them in his manual titled: “The New Method of Making Common-place Books.” In 1769 came the Granger books, books used by William Granger. Granger used this form to publish a history of England with extra illustration of the text in the appendix. Granger books were also called extra-illustrated books.
A major interest in scrapbooking came about in 1826, with the publication of “Manuscript Gleanings and Literary Scrapbook” by John Poole. The term ‘scrapbook’ was, however, coined a few years prior and had until then existed under various names. During the late 1800s, Mark Twain also popularized the usage of scrapbooks by patenting a series of them in 1872.
Photography and Scrapbooking
The invention of photography took the concept of the scrapbook to another level and changed the way it was done completely. Now, it became possible to also capture scenes of the events being described in the text as well.
In the 20th century, the popularity of the scrapbook declined. This was because, during the time of the first Word War, recession caused businesses, even the business of recording happy times, to close down. Another reason was that around 1940, the mass production of photo albums started and people ignored the scrapbook as the preferred method of recording events in their lives. The resurgence in scrapbooking started with Alex Haley’s “Roots”.
Ever since, there has been renewed interest in scrapbooking and, today, it has acquired a newer shade with the introduction of digital technology.