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29 JULY 2006

Scrapbooks: tools for collecting our personal material culture

"Scrapbooks comprise much of the 'material culture' of personal memory: they contain memorabilia of all sorts, and photographs of people and occasions that are important in the individual's life. In this sense, they are the 'analog', nonverbal form of a diary or journal. Michele Gerbrandt, edits Memory Maker, a magazine devoted to 'scrapbooking' that began in 1996. In Scrapbook Basics: The Complete Guide to Preserving Your Memories (Memory Makers Books, 2002), Gerbrandt suggests that scrapbooks have their origins in the 'commonplace books' in which people collected literary passages, quotations, ideas, and observations for personal reflection. She reports that in 1709, the British philosopher John Locke (posthumously) published a New Method of Making Common–Place Books (sometimes included in editions of Locke's 1690 Essay Concerning Human Understanding). The common–place book eventually evolved into the modern scrap–book. In 1872 Mark Twain, who owned a publishing firm, marketed a 'self–pasting' scrap book. Scrapbooks document personal and family histories, and record experiences, good and bad, for later reflection. Many personal websites, not to mention weblogs (or 'blogs'), have a certain 'scrapbook' quality."

(John F. Kihlstrom, University of California, Berkeley)

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blogcommonplace bookcommonplacesdiaryephemera • John Kihlstrom • John LockejournalMark Twainmaterial culturememorabiliamemoryquotationreflectionscrapbook
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