This academic but delightful volume explores the myriad ways 19th- and 20th-century Americans scrapbooked, turning photographs, magazine ads, love notes and recipes into albums that fashioned identities and preserved memories. Fifteen historians, librarians and literary critics contribute essays examining scrapbooks by an African-American musician, a Depression-era teen, a Wild West prostitute, South Carolina plantation ladies and countless children (including the young Willa Cather). In the 19th century, teachers and parents embraced scrapbooking as a wholesome pastime that would teach children to be frugal and productive. Scrapbooking wasn't an exclusively female pursuit. Ott argues that men often scrapbooked as part of their professional lives and examines male physicians' scrapbooks. The history of this hobby is bound up with the march of consumer capitalism; making scrapbooks was a way to refine and display one's taste, and mass-produced scrapbooks were the products of an industrial economy. The 65 b&w images scattered throughout are a visual feast: a prostitute's business card, newspaper photos of FDR, late-19th-century advertising cards, paper dolls, postcards, awards, Singer sewing machine ads, Bible cards. Scholars and scrapbookers alike will enjoy these slices of social history. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This illustrated essay collection by Tucker (curator of books & records, Newcomb Coll. Ctr. for Research on Women, Tulane Univ.; Telling Memories Among Southern Women), Katherine Ott (curator, science & medicine, Smithsonian's National Museum of American History; Fevered Lives), and Patricia P. Buckler (English & composition, Purdue Univ.) examines in two parts the great variety of scrapbooks, their creators, and their importance as historical records. In "Manuscripts of Learning and Knowledge," one finds records of physicians' careers, daily life on a Southern plantation, the Mexican War, and the World's Columbian Exposition. "Books of the Self" includes family records and the documentation of personal experiences. Two essays here deal with the relationship of early development to adult creativity in the lives of famous writers based on the scrapbooks compiled by their mothers. Unfortunately, the writing is a bit dry, and the book could have offered a more revealing glimpse into the makers as real people. Over all, this is not a how-to but a "why" book; a serious, systematic investigation of the history of an enduring tradition suitable only for specialized libraries with large collections.-Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.