In one of the exhibit’s featured albums, the owner writes on the opening page:
Yes, this is my album,
But learn ere you look
That all are expected
To add to my book.
This inscribed poem was a popular one during the Victorian era. It is commonly found, with some variations, handwritten into the opening pages of various types of scrapbooks/albums, and it was often pre-printed into commercially made blank books.1 At the time, the poem simultaneously declared the book’s ownership and invited collaboration from the book owner’s peers. Today, the poem asserts the value of albums as volumes that contain unique and purposefully collected evidence of lives—lives that were often unlikely to be memorialized in published books.
The aforementioned ownership page is from an album that belonged to Lilian Leigh Kidman, the eldest daughter of an artistically inclined farming family from Hertfordshire. Inscribed in Kidman’s album, the poem reminds that the pages contain traces—scraps—of the experiences of the original owner and her friends, all of whom are likely unknown to the book’s current viewer. Kidman’s album is one of many Victorian scrapbooks/albums housed at the University of Victoria that exists as evidence of past lives.
Pictured to the left: Ownership page from the Lilian L. Kidman Album (created between 1898 and 1928).
This exhibit was created to feature a selection of these scrapbooks/albums. The chosen albums fall generally into three categories: traditional scrapbooks, autograph albums, and seaweed albums. The exhibit's three main sections will guide you through an overview of each category of scrapbook/album and include information on how each of the featured volumes was assembled. Following each section, you will see the "From the Archives" pages: on these pages, you can browse full, digitized versions of each featured album. The “From the Archives” pages also provide contextualizing information about the featured albums’ owners and origins, when known.
For those interested in further research, the exhibit ends with an annotated list of Victorian scrapbooks/albums that are housed at the University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections and University Archives.
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