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“Yes, this is my album” Victorian Collections of Scraps, Signatures, and Seaweed

Seaweed Albums in Archives


To the taste that appreciates the beautiful in form, or color, they are an endless source of pleasure, and a sure means to cultivation. The plants of the sea greatly surpass all others in the perfection with which they retain their original beauty when dried and preserved in the herbarium.

– Alpheus Baker Hervey, Sea Mosses: A Collector’s Guide and an Introduction to the Study of Marine Algae (1881)

Seaweed collecting was popular until at least the end of the Victorian era, although there are less examples of seaweed albums in archives than traditional scrapbooks or autograph albums.1 There are a few reasons for this: Given their scientific relevance as books of mounted specimens, seaweed scrapbooks have ended up in different types of spaces—from archives, to special collections, to private collections, to science departments.2 Another possible factor is that seaweed albums, especially those less exemplary in their execution, may be deemed as having little aesthetic value. In other words, family members who inherit seaweed albums may be more likely to throw them out or leave them packed away in boxes.3

Pictured to the right: One of the older specimens from the Edward Morell Holmes Herbarium. Dated 1853, this specimen was likely given to Holmes by another seaweed collector.

The University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections and University Archives houses one seaweed album: the Edward Morell Holmes Herbarium (AR069). To examine Holmes’ album in detail, click the following link:

Or, you can continue to the next section of the exhibit:


  1. Oatman-Stanford par. 22 Back ↑
  2. Zytaruk 186 Back ↑
  3. Oatman-Stanford par. 9 Back ↑
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