Contact Us

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

Who Should Keep a Scrap-Book?

Everyone who reads.

– E. W. Gurley, Scrap-Books and How to Make Them (1880)

Gurley accurately describes scrapbooking as potentially useful to every reader, despite the pervasive belief that the pastime should be reserved for the amusement of women and children.1 Further, Gurley actually underestimates the accessibility of the activity; as Garvey writes, scrapbooking was undertaken even by those who did not read.2 In reality, scissors-and-glue scrapbooking was enjoyed and utilized by a wide variety of people, regardless of their age, gender, vocation, socioeconomic status, or even their reading ability.

Scrapbooks were made by children, students, housewives, governesses, politicians, doctors, pharmacists, authors, actors, suffragists, and farmers (for just a few examples), all of whom found different utility in pasting scraps into books.3 Many well-known figures from around the world made scrapbooks during the nineteenth century: in England, Baroness Louise Lehzen (Queen Victoria’s governess),4 Lewis Carroll,5 and Mary Cowden Clarke;6 in France, Sarah Bernhardt;7 in Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen;8 in Canada, Nellie McClung9 and Winnifred Eaton Reeve (Onoto Watanna);10 in the United States, Frederick Douglass,11 Susan B. Anthony,12 Elizabeth Cady Stanton,13 Abraham Lincoln,14 Mark Twain,15 and Jack London.16 Their scrapbooks often ended up in archives alongside the scrapbooks of never-famous and now-unknown scrapbook compilers.

Pictured above: Examples of traditional scrapbooks created by a variety of people, for a variety of purposes.

The University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections and University Archives houses many traditional scissors-and-glue scrapbooks, all created for a variety of purposes. Featured in full later in the exhibit are a child's scrapbook created by a girl named Muriel Gerrard (SC236), a family history scrapbook created by a local Victoria woman named Cecelia Sylvester (AR281), and an anonymous theatre critic’s scrapbook (SC372). For more information on examples not featured here (such as Judge Mulvena's scrapbook, pictured above), look for the annotated list at the end of the exhibit.

Continue to next page: Gathering the Materials

  1. Gurley 11-13 Back ↑
  2. Garvey, Writing with Scissors 27 Back ↑
  3. Garvey, Writing with Scissors 4, 212, 215, 222 and Mecklenburg-Faenger par. 6 Back ↑
  4. Connolly Back ↑
  5. Carroll, lchtml lc001, Library of Congress Back ↑
  6. Clarke, BC MS NCC/94, University of Leeds Back ↑
  7. Bernhardt, PA-00170, Harry Ransom Center Back ↑
  8. Andersen and Drewsen, PT8103 .D7, Library of Congress Back ↑
  9. McClung, MS-0010.27, Royal British Columbia Museum and Archives Back ↑
  10. Watanna, CA ACU SPC F0177, University of Calgary Back ↑
  11. Douglass, mfd.16013, Library of Congress Back ↑
  12. Anthony, mss11049, Library of Congress Back ↑
  13. Stanton, mss41210, Library of Congress Back ↑
  14. Lincoln and Douglas, E457.4 .L772 1858, Library of Congress Back ↑
  15. Twain, Mark Twain Papers, University of California Back ↑
  16. London, mssJL 1-25307, Huntington Library Back ↑
< Part I: Traditional Scrapbooks Gathering the Materials >