Tragic Sandwich

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Adventures in Scrapbooking

Genealogy Scrapbooking at Archivers

Meagan Francis’s post “Confessions of a scrapbooking dropout” on got me thinking about my own love-hate relationship with the activity.

And to start with, “hate” applies to the mental energy it requires, not to the process or results. In other words, I enjoy creating scrapbooks. I just don’t enjoy thinking about them.

My mother used to make yearly scrapbooks for our family. I’ve always enjoyed flipping through them, and at some point we started working on them together, because she had such a backlog. We didn’t get very far, though; the last family scrapbook covered the year 1978, and I’m pretty sure we were at least 10 years behind.

Mr. Sandwich and I were married in 2004; we bought a photography package that provided us with all the negatives and digital files, and a full set of prints. I have yet to make a wedding album from them.

I also inherited all the archival family photos. And by “archival,” I mean that they go back to the late 1800s. A stunning number survived WWII in the Philippines. I’ve gotten my mother’s side of the family up to the 1950s, but have yet to start on my father’s.

What holds me up, regardless of which set we’re talking about, is the thought of the physical process: identifying and sorting photos so that I know what goes where, and who is in them. And it’s not just photos. There are ticket stubs, theater programs, newspaper articles, and brochures from places we went.

And then there are papers and stickers and colored pens and any manner of embellishments that (apparently) everyone but me can use to create a scrapbook page that is a work of art. Seriously, I’m good with the funny captions, but I have the design capabilities of an untrained capybara.

The pressure! It’s too much!

But then I took another look at the scrapbooks I love from my childhood. They were mostly photos and captions. My mother didn’t use themed paper with coordinating accessories–those simply weren’t available to her. And not once have I looked at her scrapbooks and thought, “This page of photos from my Girl Scout camping trip would be better if it had a sticker of a tent.”

So I’ve stopped worrying about that. I’ll use the materials I have, but I’m not going to buy any more. I don’t need the anxiety or the expense. For more recent digital photos, I’ll create photo books on (although that method comes with its own lengthy selection process, because WOW do we have a lot of digital pictures).

And those archival family photos? I’ll scan them to share with the rest of the family. I think we should all have them.

Photo by Valerie Renee, via Flickr


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10 thoughts on “Adventures in Scrapbooking

  1. I can totally relate. As much as I love the arts, I could never get into scrapbooking consistently. I think there’s just too many photos to document now. I couldn’t even finish my kid’s baby book haha. We also have some pretty amazing old photos (though none from the 1800s!) and those we’ve scanned and printed numerous copies of for all the relatives to have.

    p.s. Do you have family in the Philippines?

    • It’s very distant family, at this point, and I don’t know any of them. Fourth cousins, or something like that, maybe.

      And I haven’t even started Baguette’s baby book!

  2. I did a scrapbook for our wedding and thought “never again!” But then we had our first baby, and a friend of mine mentioned how she had a scrapbook for each kid, and did a page per year. And I liked the idea, so I bought a scrapbook and started collecting photos and ideas. I have done nothing more. I think that perhaps I should recognize that scrapbooking is not for me and just stick to blog writing!

    • There are lots of ways to record and preserve memories–I’m learning to focus on what works for me, and not what I thought would work for me because it worked for someone else.

  3. I love scrapbooking, but haven’t been able to sit down and do it since my second child was born now almost 3 years ago. I could sit there for hours and just look at photos, mixing & matching them to create just a single page…. but now, I’m sure I’d just slap them all together. I do make a lot of snapfish books usually 3 times a year that I send to family….

  4. I love scrapbooking but it just takes too much time – time I no longer have. I think I made it through month 2 of Mittens’ baby book before I had to shelve it. Also: love the capybara reference.

  5. I can totally relate! I used to scrapbook all the time. I have a lot of completed albums, plus TONS of supplies that are now just sitting around. It’s almost obsolete now with Shutterfly and all the online scrap services. So I try using the paper and stickers for other crafts. We’ll see.

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