What are the roots of today’s digital scrapbook? A scrapbook is a visual method of storytelling to preserve a legacy of history in the form of photographs, printed media and memorabilia presented artistically in decorated albums. The digital scrapbook can be traced back to ancient Greece, where a special notebook known as a “hypomnemata” was used to record events people had heard, seen or read that they wanted to preserve and remember.
In early America, some of the most well-known scrapbookers included Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain. An avid scrapbooker, Mark Twain devoted entire Sundays to the hobby and then sold his books through Montgomery Ward.
In the 15th century, books called commonplace books, often used by students, were used to record prayers, poems and information such as weights and medical formulas. Eventually, commonplace books also held illustrations, newspaper clippings and recipes, and proved to be a valuable way to share information.
With the advent of photography, scrapbooks began to feature mounted photos with handwritten captions. A scrapbook layout might include letters, newspaper articles and other mementos. Young women in the Victorian period created memory books, friendship albums or visitor’s albums containing signatures, cards, locks of hair, poetry and pictures of their family and friends to give as gifts or preserve memories.
The Traditional Scrapbook
In the United States, Utah’s Marielen Christensen is often credited with reviving interest in scrapbooking. She began designing creative pages and three-ring binders for her family’s photo memories and displayed them at the World Conference on Records. She and her husband published a how-to book, Keeping Memories Alive, and opened a scrapbook store in 1981 that remains open today.
The traditional art of scrapbooking has often brought women together socially to make scrapbooks and share their work and memories. These hobbyists, known as scrapbookers or scrappers, still gather at each other’s homes, local scrapbook stores, scrapbooking conventions and retreat centers. The term “crop,” a reference to cropping or trimming printed photos, was coined to describe these events.
In the late 1990s, many U.S. scrappers opened stores to turn their hobby into a business. Between 2001 and 2004, the scrapbooking industry doubled in size to $2.5 billion, with more than 1,600 companies creating scrapbooking products by 2003. In America, the hobby has surpassed golf in popularity: One in four households has a golf enthusiast; one in three has a scrapbooking enthusiast!
Scrapping Goes Digital
Naturally, scrapbooking has modernized with the computer age. Creating a digital scrapbook is the process of using a scrapbook layout to create pages using photo- or image-editing software. Digital scrappers import electronic photos and scrapbooking graphics into their image-editing programs and arrange them to create digital scrapbook pages.
Digital scrapping was inspired by the methods, style and culture of traditional scrapbooking. Today’s scrapbook layout and computer programs are designed to capture the look and feel of traditional scrapbooking and provide creative control over all the elements–even ones on premade templates.
And the social element remains intact in the digital scrapping world. Many digital scrappers get together to share their digital resources and knowledge about editing programs. They read blogs, attend scrapbook conventions and meet others in online digital scrapbooking chat rooms and forums. It’s easier than ever to share a digital scrapbook with anyone, anywhere!
Time and money savings are among other benefits digital scrapbookers realize over glue-and-paper scrapping. In addition, while a traditional scrapbook layout and photos can fade or yellow over time, a computer-generated scrapbook layout is archived in a digital format where it’s kept safe from the effects of time, heat, oxidation and other factors. A digital scrapbook layout never loses its detail or color.
Another feature people love about the digital scrapbook is that they can add small notes or embellishments to each photo in the scrapbook layout to convey the story more vividly. This allows them to add their own creativity to the scrapbook layout.
With digital photography rising quickly, many scrapbookers edit all their photos on the computer before they ever put them in an album. They remove red eyes, crop distracting backgrounds and enhance the color of images, sharpening the overall effect of their digital scrapbook and giving it a professional look.
Traditional scrappers are realizing they don’t have to learn programming to create a digital scrapbook or photo collage. This part of the digital scrapbook has been catered to by professionals and is served to the scrapper on a platter in the form of a premade template and scrapbook layout, often featuring themes carrying mass appeal.
Scrapbooking has come a long way since ancient Greece, but its purpose and effects remain the same, and the digital scrapbook will only boost the popularity of this ancient art, helping preserve special memories for centuries to come!