Communicating through Scrapbooks

Candy and snacks

Candy wrappers tell stories in the Annie Gertrude Gilliam Scrapbook.

This is not the end

Final page of the Victoria J. Lewis Scrapbook.

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.

Communicating through Scrapbooks