Monday, 17 September 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : S is for...

For this week's Alphabet Challenge blog post I have chosen a topic which is close to my heart - Scrapbooking. Besides genealogy, reading and writing historical fiction, and collecting old postcards I love to play with photographs and create layouts in a scrapbook album.

For those who may not know, scrapbooking is a method for preserving personal and family history in the form of a scrapbook. Scrapbook albums usually contain memorabilia such as photographs, postcards, poems, letters, cards, recipes, and artwork. The first scrapbooks appeared as far back as the 15th century when it became popular in England to keep "commonplace books". I often wonder whether any of my ancestors kept scrapbooks and what happened to them. Did anybody keep them, pass them on, or were they destroyed by disinterested parties. My great-grandmother Nellie kept her precious memorabilia in an old biscuit tin and both of my grandmother's had an assortment of albums and leather-bound satchels for their photographs.
I began scrapbooking in earnest back in 2001 after I attend a Babies & Children's Expo. I still remember the "Creative Memories" display like it was yesterday. Layed out on tressel tables were rows of scrapbooks of all colours and sizes and the ideas flooded in my over-active mind. I wanted to create something unique and special for my then unborn child and in that moment, I was determined to ensure that all of my photographs would be lovingly displayed and preserved. Thus, my love of scrapbooking was born (pardon the pun).
Three generations of photograph albums
My grandmother Lilian's, My mother's and mine

To date I have made nine scrapbook albums. I would really like to say I have made ten if it included my intended heritage scrapbook but that is still on my "to-do" list. Why haven't I made it yet, I hear you ask? Simple, it's one word: fear. I confess that I am a perfectionist (eat your heart out Jim Cameron) and more especially when it comes to creating scrapbooks. I have all the necessary implements, papers (acid free, of course) and tons of photographs but I just cannot bring myself to sit down and actually do it. I am terrified of mucking the whole thing up. Crazy, I know.
I can proudly say that I have accumulated a lot of favourite scrapbook "how-to" books and these are a few of my absolute favourites, which I return to again and again:
The Complete Guide to Creating Heritage Scrapbooks (Memory Makers)
Scrapbook Journaling Made Simple (Memory Makers)
Scrapbooking Your Family History (Maureen A. Taylor)
Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs (Maureen A. Taylor)
Scrapbooking Your Family History (Laura Best)
Scrapbooking Family in Historical Events (Laura Best)
'Good Housekeeping' Wartime Scrapbook (Barbara Dixon)
The Altered Book Scrapbook (Susan Ure)

A sample of some of my personal scrapbooks
My personal tips for scrapbooking: Don't ever use your original photographs. Always use copies; that way if you make a mistake during the cropping process you can always print off another. Always ensure that you use acid-free papers and scrapbooking materials. If you don't feel confident when it comes to journaling, practise on a separate sheet of paper and use the photograph as a narrative guide. Remember, every photograph tells a story.
Lastly, I picked up this invaluable tip and I want to pass it on to you. When you create a scrapbook or photograph/memorabilia album, include an "About the Author" and paste it on the inside front page and remember to include a small photograph of yourself. Write a brief introduction: tell the person who will be looking at your album who you are, why you made the album, what your hobbies are, what date it was when you made the album and where you were living at the time. Below is an example, taken from one of my personal scrapbooks that I made in 2003. Please, try not to laugh at my photo (it was the 1980s, come on!).
"About The Author"
Fom my personally made childhood scrapbook

My favourite websites to order my scrapbooking supplies from: (Companies in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Canada, USA, Japan) (UK based, but overseas orders welcome) (Australia based, but overseas orders welcome)


  1. Some good tips there Debra. I never realised that one could purchase books on how to make a scrapbook.

    1. Thanks very much Ann, I'm so glad that you enjoyed my tips. Perhaps you might make your own scrapbook one day? ;-) xx

  2. Thanks for including our website in your posting on scrapbooking. We certainly provide a range of products for preserving and archiving your family history safely!

    Thanks again Debra and a good read!
    Family Tree Folk

  3. Another first class post, Debs, and I very much appreciated your tips. I have made scrapbooks since I was a child, e.g. on Queen's Coronation, ballet, costume, holidays, though I have never tried to follow the style that is popular now. I particularly liked your idea about including an "About Me" page - that had never occurred to me. You might like to look at my blog post on my Christmas scrapbooks.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, I certainly shall have a look at your blog post later. xx

  4. Great post Debra. I also have a passion for family history but being time poor and very "uncrafty" I've never tried scrapbooking. Your post has made it sound very tempting. Beautiful work.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, I am not a crafts person either. My scrapbooks are more about the photos and the journaling, I don't go in for a lot of "bling" on my pages. Less is more! xx

  5. I do love scrapbooking, and find that it is a fabulous way to showcase your family history. But I'm still in the 'newbie' phase of learning about it all, so thank you for your tips.

    1. You're welcome. It is quite a relaxing hobby to get into to be honest and you're so right, it is a great way of showcasing your family history. xx

  6. My grandmother Fannie had a photo album just like the narrow black one in your photo with "Photographs" written in the corner. Scrapbooks always seem like something I should do, but I never do.

  7. I also love to scrapbook my family history. I just bought some more scrapbooking supplies with the family history theme. Just hope I get time to scrapbook soon.

  8. I was really searching for such a nice post and got here...Thanks for sharing such a nice information, its beneficial for me...Keep sharing more.
    scrapbooking supplies