Scrapbook It!

Featured Article, Home & Family
on May 11, 2014
David Mudd

On flower-patterned paper, Amy Glines arranges her favorite photos from a family hiking trip. She settles on a design, then reaches for glue, ribbons, rubbestamps, colored pens, shape-cutting scissors, stencils and a stickermaking machine to create a keepsake of a spring outing to Hot Springs (Ark.) National Park.

“It’s a way to relive the memories,” says Glines, 40, of Purcell, Mo.,who’s been scrapbooking since 1991.

Glines’ 30 personalized scrapbooks provide a peek into her life andreveal her love for her family. Decorated pages with hand-writtenpassages highlight the rescue of a baby oriole, a surprise snowfall in May, a trip with her husband, Jeff, to an Oklahoma City Barons ice hockey game, and a summer visit by her niece and nephews.

Scraps of History

Some 23 million Americans keep scrapbooks, a pastime rooted in 16th-century “commonplace books,” in which people copied proverbs, quotations and speeches that they deemed worth remembering. Modern scrapbooking, however, arose in the 19th century with affordable penny press newspapers. “There was so much wonderful information in print with cheap newspapers,” says scrapbook historian Ellen GruberGarvey, author of Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance.

Rather than save piles of newspapers, people cut out news stories, poetry, sermons and tidbits that were meaningful to them and pasted the clippings in scrapbooks.“Scrapbooks are extraordinary bridges to the daily lives and thoughts of our ancestors,” says Garvey, an English professor at New Jersey City University in Jersey City, N.J.

Heirloom Albums

Saving family photos and history in embellished books is the focus of today’s scrapbook keepers, whether they use paper, computers or both to preserve memories. founder Jill Davis, 60, of Mesa, Ariz., says scrapbooks reveal much about a person’s life. She’s seen the reactions of her children’s soon- to-be spouses as they thumbed through the pages of family scrapbooks that she compiled.

“It’s a wonderful connection to behold,” Davis says. “The scrapbooks contain feelings, stories, hopes, dreams, highs, lows and chronological information, too.” Davis created her first scrapbook at age 12. Sitting at her grandmother’s kitchen table spread with family photos, she eagerly glued photos of her ancestors on paper pages, listed their birth and death dates, and wrote their stories as related by her grandmother.

In 2001, Davis’ passion became her business when she launched the nation’s largest online scrapbooking store. In 2007, she bought Keeping Memories Alive, the nation’s first scrapbooking store and website founded by Marielen Christensen in Spanish Fork, Utah. Christensen is credited with sparking the contemporary scrapbooking craze when she displayed her “memory books” at the 1980 World Conference on Records in Salt Lake City.

In her books, Christensen created pages of family photos and mementos, which she slipped into protective plastic covers and a three-ring binder. Protective covers were a novelty at the time and the idea caught hold. Soon, an industry sprang up to provide acid-free and archival- quality papers, inks, glues and tools to make the heirloom books.

Clipping and Clicking

While rescuing family photos from attics and closets often is the goal of scrapbook keepers, the joy is in the creative journey. “It’s cheaper than therapy,” quips Nancy Nally, 42, of Palm Coast, Fla., founder of “I love color and patterns and mixing and matching,” she says. “I’ll spend hours on a single layout. I enjoy fussing with it until my creative mind is happy with what I see.”

While Nally prefers traditional scrapbooking with paper that she cantouch,otherhobbyistshave shifted to computers to create digital albums. The appeal is less clutter and expense, according to Michelle Stelling, 46, founder of the National Association of Digital Scrapbookers in Commerce City, Colo.

“The future is going to be digital and video,” Stelling says. “My students take pictures, but also a 20-second video clip, which we mix in with their memories. It’s not just flat photos on a DVD.” Whether scrapbook keepers cut and paste with scissors and glue or with the click of a mouse, family memories andhistoryarepreserved.