Scrapbooking - A Thing of the Past?

I can count on one hand the number of people I know who scrapbook. I know plenty who love the idea of it and maybe even bought some supplies to get started, but quickly lost their desire. When I was in college, I saw the one and only local scrapbooking store close its doors for good and I worried that my favorite hobby was just a trend that had finally run its course.

Pauline Shockley 100 years old in Sunnyside, WA

Then I thought more about why I scrapbook. What's the purpose? From a young age, I was always fascinated by the past, especially family history. My great-grandmother was a few months shy of 101 years old when she passed away in 2016 and she was an amazing family historian. Her hometown museum even featured several heirlooms that she loaned at its inception. She kept record of everything and I found myself looking at a photo album, scrapbook, or other piece of memorabilia every time I visited. While her roots ran deep in the small town of Sunnyside, WA, she loved to travel. One of the albums she gave me before she died was full of postcards from all over the US and beyond with typewritten descriptions for each card. (Shown at bottom)

These are the reasons why I scrapbook. Sure, we all studied history in school, but the stories of the past are much more memorable when told by someone you know who lived it. The Great Depression, for example, was a lot different for my family in Washington State than was depicted in textbooks. When my future kids and grandkids read about 9/11 or the polarizing presidential election of 2016, I want their learning to be supplemented with how it affected their family, as well as the nation. I remember history being a dry subject for me and a lot of my fellow students. Scrapbooking and journaling is my way of making history personal. What if Anne Frank had never written her diary? A large part of history is found in individual experiences.

Now, back to my question. Is scrapbooking a dying art? I don't think so. Are there as many people shopping locally for supplies and getting together with other scrapbookers to craft and share ideas? No. Big-box stores and online shopping has changed the way we buy our supplies and make our scrapbooks. It's not as community-oriented as it briefly was in the 90s. Scrapbooking is such a personal art, though, and people have treasured memory-keeping for centuries.

Do people have as much time to scrapbook? Not really. With Shutterfly and other printing services, people can create an attractive photo album for a fraction of the time and cost of a traditional scrapbook. I find these 2-D alternatives to lack a lot of the personality and charm of a DIY album, but at least these precious memories aren't being forgotten in a shoebox or on a hard drive somewhere.

While forms of "scrap-books" have been kept since the 1400s, the term "scrapbook" became common by the 1820s; that's almost 200 years of the modern scrapbook! The craft surely has evolved as we make technological advances, but one thing remains constant - the human desire to record and reminisce. And even in this digital era, we still enjoy things that are tangible. We still print photos. We still hang them on the walls. We still want to touch the memories. Don't let someone else write your history. Find a way to tell your story. The next generation will be glad you did.

Collection of Postcards by Pauline Shockley

(Album of my great-gramma's postcard collection)

For a more in-depth history of scrapbooking and its place in history, politics, and society - including some rare and beautiful photographs, check out this compilation article from!