Communicating through Scrapbooks
Newspaper clippings, photographs, report cards, programs, letters. Such comprise the diverse ephemera of everyday life. Each of these artifacts are a means of communication in themselves, but when collected into a scrapbook, they tell a larger story. By its very nature, the narrative in a scrapbook is fragmented, limited in time period and constrained by whatever objects were preserved. A page from Annie Gertrude Gilliam's scrapbook (shown left) contains a collage of snack and candy wrappers that might seem like bits of trash if not for the meaning they are given in the scrapbook. A stick of Wrigley's spearmint gum becomes a reminder of a hike with friends and a Vienna sausage label becomes a memento of "my last supper with my ole roommate Dot."
Scrapbooks speak to a timeless need to communicate through words and images, to remember the past, and to preserve a piece of one's self for the future. As the last page of Victoria J. Lewis's scrapbook (shown above left) suggests, the end of a period in one's life is not really the end, because memories live forever. Scrapbooks are a way to keep those memories alive.