The Evolution of Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking has been in existence since the age of Aristotle; it is a human tradition of collecting and ruminating on days gone by, a way of telling stories, and a way to preserve a life to share with others. Different cultures and generations place varying emphasis on picture-taking, collecting memorabilia, and documenting memorable events. For example, older generations tend to collect keepsakes and chronological events, perhaps for memoirs or family trees. Younger generations tend to collect pictures of family, friends, and places, and may journal current experiences. Whatever the form, the essence of scrapbooking is a timeless tradition.

Even Mark Twain was a scrapbook aficionado; he published a series of scrapbooks during his writing career, that documented places he visited and pasted the various pictures and clippings for publishing. Despite the lucrative income, he opened the doors for others to engage in a growing hobby. Blank book and journals became increasingly popular over the decades, and scholars and general groups alike frequently took part in journaling, collecting and pasting information, and creating personal stories.

Scrapbooking increased as a pursuit in the 1800s when albums and large journals became easily available to the general public, and not just the upper class. It could now hold newspaper clippings and even decorative pieces; with Eastman Kodak’s introduction of the camera in 1888, the world of scrapbooking took on a whole new dimension.

The collection of photographs became a passionate pastime for many during the world war era, and people became more interested in the pursuit of photography over the traditional scrapbooking involving clippings. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that scrapbooking as we know it today emerged as a cultural trend. At this stage, it became clear that photographs and clippings could combine to create a memoir-style collection or album.

The first scrapbook retail store opened in Spanish Fork, Utah, in 1981 and was named “The Annex.” This location is important, as it was primarily populated by Mormons. Mormon culture requires the documentation of family history, and so the tradition continues across other cultures today.

Over the past ten years, scrapbooking has emerged as a wonderful hands-on activity that can be as creative or as simple as the scrapbooker desires! Craft and hobby stores are chock-full of scrapbooking kits, papers, accessories, and writing tools to create beautiful and very creative books. Combined with photographs and quotations to accompany them, these often become highly informative family memoirs or biographies.

Further still, scrapbooking has evolved to the Internet. With today’s rapid rise and use of digital photography, online scrapbooks are faster and accessible worldwide. Now friends and family can share entire albums with one click, and not even take part in the clipping, accessorizing, or cut and pasting involved with the material version. Websites and spaces on the web have been constructed for various scrapbook themes and needs, and some even imitate a ‘virtual’ scrapbook complete with accessories such as frames and cartoons to accompany ‘pages’ or pictures. Pictures can be burned onto CDs and exchanged, foregoing the need to download or use up computer space altogether.

Whatever your choice or template may be, there is a very contemporary way to continue a classic tradition. The art of scrapbooking has evolved, but it continues today as a way for people to connect, share their life stories, entertain friends and family, and recall those precious moments. Today’s ease of use in exchanging pictures online has also encouraged the boom in digital photography. The internet has bought with it rapid speed so that we can connect, perhaps reconnect, and preserve our life experiences!

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