Here’s another post from my dissertation.
I was pregnant for the first and only time while conducting my interviews for my dissertation. Scratch that. I was visibly pregnant while conducting my interviews. I was not (and still am not) an aunt. I point this out, because motherhood was a very recent notion in my life while conducting my research. I was already a scrapbooker. Most of my scrapbooking friends were child-free women. My scrapbooking world was a bit different from the stereotypical image of a scrapbooker: a pregnant woman documenting her pregnancy (or the fetus which seems to be the more often case) or a pregnant woman preparing a baby album or a new mom attempting to deal with an influx of baby photos. I think you get the idea. Motherhood is related to scrapbooking. This surprises no one.
What was surprising to me, was how motherhood is deeply entwined with scrapbooking, yet motherhood is rendered invisible in scrapbooks. Scrapbooks might serve as evidence of sort regarding “good motherhood,” but the mother behind the scrapbook is rarely seen.
This invisible motherhood came to light when I was shown a scrapbook from a mother that was made a s gift for the children’s grandma. The children were four or five at the time–too young to have created the scrapbook themselves, yet there was absolutely no evidence that their mother was the scrapbook creator. The title of the book was “For Grandma” even though the children did not make the album; their mother did. The status of grandmother superseded the status of mother and her work is made invisible by making the gift come from her children despite the fact she made the album.
I’m not sure why this surprised me so much because, mothers are usually behind the camera instead of in front of the camera, too. Many respondents, however, make an effort to have others take photographs so that their picture can also be in the scrapbook.
Many scrapbooks may be a site where women do motherhood, but that motherhood is often made invisible in the scrapbook itself.
If you are a scrapbooker and a mother (or a father), how visible is your parental status in your scrapbooks? How do you get your image included in the scrapbook? Join the conversation below.
 Holland (1991) argues in our culture, snapshooting is classified as a domestic skill and something women can do, unlike becoming a professional photographer (e.g., fashion photographer, photojournalist).
Holland, Patricia. 1991. “Introduction: History, Memory and the Family Album.” Pp.1-14 in Family Snaps: The Meanings of Domestic Photography, edited by J. Spence and P. Holland. London, Great Britain: Virago Press.
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