History of Scrapbooking

History of scrapbooking? Yes, some of you have gotten curious and wonder what’s the scrapbooking history about.

Hmm… maybe because you’ve become addicted to this hobby and finally wanted to find out more about its roots and gather some scrapbooking inforamtion. Most probably, you’re starting out or have just started scrapbooking for awhile, and wonder does scrapbooking go a long way back? Is it a just a new hobby that has exploded in popularity in the last few years?

Can you believe that more than 150 years ago, people have already been collecting scraps and preserving them in albums? That’s something I’ve learned. But the exact date of when scrapbook started isn’t known.

In the history of scrapbooking, Thomas Jefferson was among the first most famous American scrapbookers. He created a series of albums filled with newspaper clippings of his presidency for future reference.

The Early Years

In 1825, the first serial of scrapbook idea book called “The Scrapbook” was issued. It included ideas on how to use pictures and newspaper clippings to fill a blank scrapbook.

In 1826, a book called Manuscript Gleanings and Literary Scrap Book was published and it’s created by no, not a female but by a male John Poole! It’s a book filled with printed poems and engravings. The book also advised people on how to collect scraps and what to do with the scraps.

This book created a scrapbooking craze among the middle-class Americans.

The first scrapbooks in early 1800s were hardly about preserving photos as cameras weren’t created yet during those days. So what sort of scraps did the people collect in their albums? Mainly mementos such as quotes, poems, calling cards (decorated cards left behind at a friend’s home), religious cards, paper cuts, and other ephemera.

It’s not so much about acid-free supplies or archival-quality then but more about collecting whatever scraps the scrapbooker deemed as “scrap worthy”. You can find newspaper clippings, engraved pictures, advertisements, personal notes and love letters in those scrapbooks.

The reasons for scrapbooking then still hold today. It’s about expressing one’s thoughts, feelings and sentiments. It’s about preserving memories, special moments and recording family stories. Scrapbooks were cherished and kept by families for many years.

With the surge of interest in scrapbooks, the publishers of scrapbooks, scraps and albums quickly responded to meet the demands. They began producing a variety of products that could be displayed in albums. Products that could be cut and pasted.

Scraps were usually printed pieces of paper with ornate designs. Such colorful pieces of scrap were cut and pasted to decorate and embellish the scrapbooks.

Of course, the invention of photography changed the way people scrapbooked in a big way. In 1837, Louis-Jacques Daguerre invented the daguerreotype and the process was made public only in 1839. So 1839 was better known as the birth of photography. Still photographs weren’t that common yet.

During mid-1800s, companies began to produce leather albums with preprinted pages devoted to various themes, and these pages were heavily embellished with images of birds and flowers.

In 1857, “carte-de-viste” albums which contained pockets for photograph insertions gained popularity in the United States. Besides pages for displaying photographs, these early scrapbook albums also contained pages for doing watercolor paintings and pencil drawings.

In 1872, another famous American scrapbooker, the famous author Mark Twain invented his profitable patented invention, Mark Twain’s Adhesive Scrapbook that contained prepasted pages. This invention netted him $50,000 in profits and became one of Twain’s most popular books.

In 1870s, companies also started to produce embossed papers that scrap collectors could use in their scrapbooks.

It’s only with George Eastman’s invention of the Kodak camera and roll film in 1888 that revolutionized the whole photography industry! With photography becoming commonplace, photographs also found their prominence in many scrapbooks.

However, the popularity of scrapbooking fell in the early 1900s due to the recession following World War I. The recession forced many scrapbook-related business to close down.

The mass production of photo albums also caused a plunge in scrapbooking popularity around 1940.

Modern Scrapbooking

In the history of scrapbooking, when did modern scrapbooking of using acid-free and archival materials arrive?

1980 was the turning point in the history of scrapbooking.

That’s when a lady, Marielen Christensen first shared her 50 volumes of her family memory books with others. Right at the World Conference on Records in Utah. Her memory books created quite a stir among people. So much so that she went on to open Keeping Memories Alive, the first scrapbooking store.

In mid-1990s, with the explosion of scrapbook idea publications, scrapbooking picked up speed in becoming one of the fastest growing hobbies in America.

Thanks to the Internet, scrapbooking continues to gain popularity and spread to other parts of the world, reaching scrapbookers worldwide. Increasing number of scrapbooking websites popped up all over the Internet, and the once rare local scrapbook stores began to mushroom in numbers.

All these helped to scrapbooking to bloom and flourish. Today. scrapbooking has grown into a multi-billion industry.

Now that you know a little more about the history of scrapbooking, are you ready to get more scrapbooking done?

If you’re a beginner and want to learn scrapbooking, please click here for the beginner’s guide. If you want to know what scrapbook supplies are needed to get started, click here.

8 comments for “History of Scrapbooking

  1. Nilda Sanchez Namuche
    September 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

    After reading this article, I am more convinced than ever that scrapbooking is part of our life.

    • Fion
      September 8, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Hi Nilda,

      Glad to have you here! Scrapbooking is a way for us to preserve our personal memories not only for ourselves but for our future generations too. Happy scrapping!

      • Emily D
        July 6, 2015 at 8:19 am

        After reading this, I feel so more excited about doing scrap booking as it is a hobby for me. Thank you!

  2. Victor Paint
    July 6, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Lovely and charming it is!

  3. October 11, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    I found this article most interesting, the 90’s were a boom time but the movements not over, as you say the Internet has brought the people back together and introduced it to a wider audience. Thanks. Jack

  4. trinity hos
    November 5, 2015 at 2:11 am


  5. maddie s
    April 27, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Thank you so much! Your article helped me a lot.

  6. Shirley Fann
    September 16, 2016 at 6:26 am

    You can document family history… leave a legacy behind.

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