Tomorrow is National Scrapbooking Day, and it’s only fitting that we should learn a little more about the history of these creative books. It may seem like a relatively new trend, but scrapbooking actually has a rich history, even dating back to Aristotle! Of course, it wasn’t the scrapbooking we know today with die-cuts, colored photographs and elaborate layouts, but ‘scrapping’ was as relevant then as it is now. No wonder we celebrate scrapbooking day!
Most experts agree that the more industrial scrapbooking we’re familiar with began in the 1980s, when a devoted mother and family historian, Marielen Christensen, premiered her extensive 50-volume family memory books at the 1980 World Conference of Records in Utah. However, scrapbooking actually had its start as early as Aristotle when he, and others like him, used it as a form of information gathering and it evolved from there.
Scrapbooking through the Ages
In 1769, William Granger published a history of England and created his own illustrations in the appendix. The idea caught on like a wildfire, and Granger included blank pages to later publications of the book so readers could add their own drawings or prints. This process came to be known as ‘grangerizing,’ and the books were called 'extra-illustrated books'. The trend caught on through the 1800s and spread throughout the world.
In 1826, a man by the name of John Poole released a book entitled, “Manuscript Gleanings and Literary Scrapbook”, which became the first scrapbooking manual of its kind. The actual term ‘scrapbook’ was actually coined several years earlier as a result of the pieces of scrap paper that were left over after printing jobs. People would paste these scraps into their books for decorative purposes. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
If you thought that scrapbooking was more of a female hobby, think again. One of the most famous proponents of scrapbooking was Mark Twain, who was known for creating volumes of scrapbooks and devoting entire Sundays to filling their pages. He even sold them for profit. Another famous scrapbooker was President Thomas Jefferson, who was known to save newspaper clippings into a memory book for future reference.
With technology continuing to increase our creative possibilities, scrapbooking has changed as well. Still photography has only come about in the last 150 years, and with it - new possibilities. Scrapbooking has evolved even more and can now include anything from custom edited photos to custom-die cuts that fit just about any life event.
Scrapbooking really comes down to preserving memories in a way that is unique to the people or families that created them and unique to the times. In their own way, scrapbooks are a way of capturing and preserving our history.