The Number 1 Rule for Scrapbooks, Advice and Links

The Number 1 Rule for Preserving Scrapbooks:

Do not take apart the scrapbook.

The beauty of the scrapbook is that every scrapbook is unique. The appeal of scrapbooks for historians, collectors, or even just owners of the scrapbook is that the scrapbook is a collection in and of itself was created as a unique story told by its creator. If you take apart the scrapbook that story cannot be told. It looses its appeal.The story creates context. If you have a postcard of Paris during WWII for instance. That is just a postcard, but if the postcard is in your grandpa’s scrapbook of his time working in his office on the Champs Elysee for the US Military during WWII. That postcard has a very different story than just an old post card of Paris. By taking that postcard out of the scrapbook, it loses its meaning. My advice is keep it together, if at all possible. 

More Advice:

1. Stay away from tape and glue to attach photos.I know that is very commonly used now for scrapbooks, but if you have ever seen an old scrapbook. You will see items glued to the page fall off, and the glue will have stained the page. The same goes for tape. Tape will harden and leave wherever it touched stained. It’s not pretty.

You might be aware of archival tape. I am skeptical. People once said CD-Roms will last 100 years when they first came out. That wasn’t even close to true. So basically, I will believe it when I see it.

The solution is to use photo corners. Those are the little adhesive corner edges that will hold an image in place on the page. The glue might eventually stain and then the corner might fall off the page in 50 years, but it will not have harmed the photo, which is the most important thing.

2. Storage can be awkward

Scrapbooks are awkward. There are many problematic issues with them, but physically they are awkward. Coming in all shapes and sizes, and is often too large to fit on a normal shelf. Scrapbooks, like books, like to sit upright on a shelf. This is the way they were made to be stored. But there are two reasons this might not work. Light is bad for scrapbooks. It can cause unreversable damage. So, if keeping the scrapbook on a shelf can be problematic. The best place for it is in the dark. So a dark shelf is best. But if it doesn’t fit on a shelf because of its awkward size, then putting it in an oversized archival box would be a good choice.

Old Scrapbooks were never made well. The paper is full of acid and they were not not made to last, which given that is the whole point of a scrapbook, it kind of baffles the mind. Often a scrapbook is holding items that are heavy like booklets, or the binding is overflowing from all the extras glued to the scrapbook's pages. Whenever a book's bindings are stretched and over flowing, it is hard on the binding. Scrapbooks really are only designed to hold things like photographs and things like newspaper articles and ticket stubs. But scrapbooks can be full of heavy items weighting pages down. This is hard on the scrapbook and take that into consideration when determining the right storage method. If the scrapbook is overfilled or has heavy objects in its pages, finding a archival box that your scrapbook would fit in might be the best choice. 

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Preservation Basics: Preservation of Scrapbooks and Albums

A great website on preservation of scrapbooks by the Library of Congress



Helpful tips for preserving your precious documents & memorabilia: Tips on Creating an Archival Scrapbook or Photo Album   

by Nancy Kraft for the Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium

Helpful for those who are trying to create their own scrapbook using archival methods.


5 Easy Steps to Preserving Scrapbooks

by Melissa Baker in her blog A Genealogist in the Archives

Tips on how to preserve your scrapbook