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October 2013


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Ellen Garvey <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 13 Oct 2013 17:11:50 -0400
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Scrapbooks are valuable for more than their clippings. The order in which the scrapbook makers arranged their clippings
tells us a great deal about how they read, and what they made of their reading. In reading hundreds of mostly nineteenth-century
scrapbooks around the country, I found African Americans speaking back to the racist press in their scrapbooks, women's rights activists working on
their public personas, parents grieving their children who died in the Civil War, and the many ways that scrapbooks echoed the
practices of newspapers, and worked in ways that are similar to our social media, like blogging. New York State scrapbook makers
like women's rights activists Lillie Devereux Blake, Matilda Joselyn Gage, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
Harlem Renaissance saloniste L.S. Alexander Gumby, and scrapbook innovator (and part time NYS resident) Mark Twain feature prominently in my book,
/Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance  <http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/LiteratureEnglish/?view=usa&ci=9780199927692>/  (Oxford UP, 2013).
    As for making scrapbooks out of current newspapers, it does seem that digital collecting has displaced that. Even by the 1910s and 20s,
many institutions that had previously kept scrapbooks were moving on to relying on clipping services, and housing the clippings in that more
flexible new invention, the vertical file. What was lost is the record of how people arranged the items they wanted to save, and the
articulate stories those arrangements tell us.

Ellen Gruber Garvey, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of English, New Jersey City University

Author,/Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance  <http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/LiteratureEnglish/?view=usa&ci=9780199927692>/
Visit theScrapbook History website  <http://scrapbookhistory.wordpress.com/>

Post, Paul. "Spa City native to donate decades-old scrapbook to New York 
State Military Museum." The Saratogian. October 10, 2013. 
Excellent! Preserving old scrapbooks is, I think, fairly worthwhile. Old 
scrapbooks assembled by movie fans of pictures and articles about their 
favorite stars, might include images and information about lost films 
(the vast majority of silent films are lost) and there's other potential 
uses for such things like examining the growth of the star system and 
film fandom. Scrapbooks of newspaper verse might have poems that would 
be very hard (on occasion, perhaps impossible) to find otherwise. My 
research into Alfred Hitchcock's pre-directorial film career and into 
H.C. Dodge's poetry has benefitted a little from scrapbooks. Very early 
newspaper clippings could be the only surviving content from early 
newspapers that weren't otherwise preserved. Perhaps similarly: in doing 
types of research that rely largely on newspapers I sometimes end up 
assembling something like a digital scrapbook of transcriptions of old 
articles and news items, e.g.: * Troy cemeteries 
* Lansingburgh cemeteries 
Those are to some extent notes for myself for writing on the topic, 
though I might self-publish the older content to provide copies in print 
to the Troy Libary and make it available for others who might want a 
print copy for whatever reason. (Who knows how long Google Docs or PDFs 
will be around.) Any opinions about historians creating entirely *new* 
scrapbooks - clipping *current* printed newspapers and putting them into 
a new physical scrapbook, a somewhat different matter? With current 
newspapers generally having digital searchable content already or 
content that's easily digitized if they're not already online or in a 
database, I'm not sure I see any reason for such a scrapbook but would 
be curious to know if others see benefits to it? One could assemble a 
bibliography about topic X rather than a scrapbook, unless the scrapbook 
is not the end goal in itself but in effect notes en route to a future 
text making use of the articles - that I certainly understand. 
Newspapers are gatekeepers - hopefully responsible ones, but relying on 
their idea of what's newsworthy or potentially historic could lead one 
astray if one relied upon it to too great a degree to the exclusion of 
other sources. I think recording oral histories, for example, would be 
more worthwhile than clipping current newspapers. Likewise, relying on a 
scrapbooker to have been thorough could be a pitfall - they could easily 
have missed other relevant material. Aside from which: I enjoy - at 
least initially - seeing articles in their original context. Entirely 
unrelated articles could prove to have something compelling enough to 
form a future topic of research. Christopher Korey Philippo --- "Now, a 
few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something 
specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the 
things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go 
looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. 
Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of 
them." - Daryl Zero (Bill Pullman) in Jake Kasdan's Zero Effect (1998) 
--- "For those who stay curious, there are always new frontiers." - 
Jello Biafra