Family Scrapbook Journals
Growing up there were certain things that we were not allowed to go through without our mother or older sister being there. These things kept in my Mother’s scrapbook journals were so precious that I couldn’t even touch some of them. Too many fingers on them would cause them to get dirty or deteriorate, my Mother said. Even if I offered to wash my hands again, the answer was still no. These items were kept in a desk drawer along with a bunch of other papers that didn’t interest me at all.
But the fascinating things were photographs, newspaper clippings, postcards sent from far away. These were the picture history of my family. I could hardly wait to see them all each time they were brought out of that drawer.
Some were kept in an scrapbook journals that my Mother started keeping when she was just a girl. The scrapbook was brown leather and on the front was an embossed scene of a tropical island with tan colored sand with blue water rushing to the shore and green palm trees bending into the picture. It was very exotic and somehow showed another side of my conservative, regimented Mother; maybe a glimpse of her dreams when she was younger. She never explained why she bought that album with the picture of the beach, just said she liked it. But to a girl of six, it was like that scrapbook album was from a foreign land and I yearned to run my hand across the embossed leather. Now I wonder if my Mother felt the same way about that embossed scrapbook cover.
The scrapbook journal pages were black paper and most of the pictures had annotations written in white ink. They’d say things like Mom and Dad or Corrine and Sister or Joe and brothers which meant something to my mother but not to me. Mom and Dad were my grandparents standing beside each other in the yard with Grandma grabbing at her skirt as the wind blew it about. Corrine and Sister were my aunts whose figures and faces didn’t really resemble my mother much. And Joe and brothers was a picture of my Father and my uncles dressed in suits and flat caps which Mother called their ‘Sunday Best’.
Toward the end of most scrapbook journals, pictures didn’t always have name written beside them but Mother seemed to always know who they were. And sometimes, when she’d stop to look through the family album with us, funny stories would spring up or she would laugh at a picture before she could explain the story she saw in the picture.
Next to the scrapbook were a couple of boxes that held more pictures and things called tintypes that were hard to see who they were as they had started to fade with age. One of the most frustrating things about these photos was the lack of information about them. Some had writing on the back that was hard to read but many had no names or dates or where they were taken.
My oldest sister has most of the photos now and has tried over the years to determine who some of these relatives are. Every time she would visit a relative she’d take some of them along to see if anyone else in the family knew who they were.
Scrapbook Journals Today
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Now our photo albums have become scrapbooks much like my Mother’s family album where all manner of things are collected. But without annotating each item, your family history could become as lost as parts of ours. As you create your own family scrapbook, be sure and take the time to journal about each picture, clipping and postcard. Scrapbooks are more than just a collection of family photos stuck on a page. They are family albums or family histories, meant to be handed down from generation to generation.
How to Journal in Your Scrapbook
Do short scrapbook journals of who is in the photo, where it was taken and other bits of information that will mean so much more to other generations. They will be able to look at these journal notes and have a better understanding of your family history. These stories of your picnic, vacation, and family moving trips will be persevered and understood by other generations. While we waited for our Mother to talk about each picture, it must have been a little tiring to her. With journal notes everyone can read them at their own pace or take turns reading them aloud.
When you are putting journals in your family album, be sure to use acid free, permanent pens that will still be legible years from now. Many pens are safe for photos today, won’t damage photos that come in contact with the journals. These pens are readily available in many colors as well as black. But remember, it is taking the time to do the journals that is important.
Some journals will merely be the names of the people in the photo, their relationship to you or your family and where the picture was taken. If it was a special event like a celebration dinner for the graduation of your cousin, it should say so. Identify the people with more than just their name. Instead of saying only “Sam Whitehall”, a more appropriate identification might be “our neighbor on Oak Street, Sam Whitehall, March 1947”. Putting down a little more information will help to jar your memory years from now. And don’t forget to add the dates of the pictures too.
Sometimes just naming the people, location, and date is not enough information on a scrapbook album page. If there is a story to be told, create a page to tell about the pictures on the same or opposite page. Even short paragraphs that tell more about the story in the pictures are always good.
Time for Scrapbook Journals
If you don’t have the time or if writing scrapbook journals is not your thing, try some short cuts that will jog your memory when you see them.
Your scrapbook could have lists of a child’s favorite things – food, songs, books, TV shows, etc. can be added beside a picture of him eating his favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich. These can be added as little decorative cards scattered beside the pictures through the scrapbook. Every album will have a few blank spaces on the page that could use these small note cards.
And you don’t have to do all of the writing. Dad can jot down a note on finding the perfect birthday present for his 10 year old son. Better yet, have both Father and Son write a short note about this birthday present. Put both notes in the scrapbook beside the picture of your son opening the present.
A friend can also help by taking notes and adding her thoughts on a trip you two take together. You’ll both love her notes and your pictures in the duplicated mini-album scrapbooks of this time spent together.
Poems and humorous or serious quotes can add life to the event being shown. Other blank spaces on the scrapbook pages can be filled in with flowers, plane tickets, Christmas trees, birth announcements, party invitations, Halloween pumpkins, beach sand pails and shovels stickers, boarding passes, concert programs or whatever reflects the experience in the pictures.
Writing simple, informative notes about a picture in your scrapbook or writing whole pages about a family excursion will help to tell your family story, your family’s history. Your scrapbook will have meaningful bits of information to share for several generations and appreciate for many years.
- Scrapbook of Memories :: delhidreams
- When "acid free" isn't actually acid free: Can you trust archival supplies to be safe? :: The Practical Archivist
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