Education-Themed Scrapbooks

One thematic trend that was somewhat surprising to me when I encountered it was education-themed scrapbooks. I think it surprised me because this style of scrapbooking is not heavily promoted by the industry aside from the production of school-themed product. In hindsight, it shouldn’t be at all surprising. At one time, I had a little book where you could write in your grade, teacher’s name, favorite friends, and favorite subjects among other things. There was a place to glue your school photo and a pocket to store memorabilia such as report cards or awards. I’m actually surprised that more scrapbooking thought leaders don’t pay more attention to style of memory keeping.

Several respondents kept education-themed scrapbooks for their children, but occasionally they have one about their own schooling. These books include the official school photo, report cards, and other significant events surrounding their or their child’s educational career. These books illustrate the value these scrapbookers place on education. One respondent, in particular, articulates that this style of scrapbook is communicates to her son the importance of school. For another respondent, the book serves as evidence[1] if and when child services visits her home that her son is in fact being home schooled. She takes photographs of some of the activities they do in the home and on field trips, partially to prove they really happened.

Education scrapbooks in particular illustrate how scrapbookers periodize their lives. Zerubavel (2003) defines periodization as delineating one period of time from another. Some scrapbookers make exactly two pages for each school year, while others make several pages for each school year. Generally, respondents try compiling chunks of educational time in these books. Education scrapbooks might be about elementary school, high school, or college in that the whole album is about one of these chunks of time rather than by year or some other unit of time. Arranging books in this way is illustrative of how scrapbookers periodize their lives (and the lives of their children) around education.

Do you make education-themed scrapbooks? Why or why not? How do you organize education records?

[1] Child services has visited this respondent’s home in the past and has confiscated her scrapbooks, too, due to nudity in the scrapbooks. They were returned to her but she is much more cautious about what is included in the scrapbooks as she knows they can serve as evidence against her ability to mother. On a related note, during the American Civil War, Dr. A. H. Platt published a genealogical album for families to compile their family records so that “widows and orphans of those who gave their lives in the war would be” able “to prove their relationship to the deceased” so that they would not lose land or pensions from the government (Siegel 2006:260). In other words, scrapbooks have long been made out of an effort to provide evidence that something really happened.

References (affiliate links)

Siegel, Elizabeth E. 2006. “ ‘Miss Domestic’ and ‘Miss Enterprise’: Or, How to Keep a Photograph Album.” Pp. 251-67 in The Scrapbook in American Life, edited by S. Tucker, K. Ott, and P. P. Buckler. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. (Public Library)

Zerubavel, Eviatar. 2003. Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. (Public Library)

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