They’re the ones with scissors and stickers. Their bags are overflowing with paper and paste. They’re the ones using terms like “decoupage” and “mod podge,” and yes: they’re scrapbookers.
The Center for Western Studies (CWS) hosts “Saturdays at the CWS,” a program that allows both Augustana students and community members to come in for a weekend lesson on anything from creating corn jewelry to discussions on the Native soul. Last Saturday, however, the topic was “Scrapbooking from an Archivist’s Perspective,” which CWS collections assistant Liz Thrond used to teach “scrappers” how best to assemble and preserve the history within each book.
Sophomore Kaitlin Carlon takes pleasure in scrapbooking photos as well.
“It’s a great way to see my photos and reminisce,” she said.
For many scrapbookers, these pages are more than a hobby. According to a 2007 CK media survey, 50 percent of scrapperbookers identify themselves as “scrapbooking addicts.”
“Scrapbooking and archiving really have the same goals,” Thrond said. It’s all about passing it down. Thrond graduated from Augustana’s history department and handles the acquisition and preservation of the CWS archives.
“She sees these scrapbooks come in quite often,” CWS education assistant Kristi Thomas said. They are damaged and crinkled and torn beyond repair, and this Saturday at the CWS was a “wonderful way to stop these problems we keep seeing.”
Thrond spent the time informing scrapbookers which materials to use and which ones to avoid. The concern is for the photographs because these are what preserve most of our history.
“The natural thing that everyone does is oftentimes the worst thing we can do,” Thrond said.
The entire goal is to avoid acids. Wearing her “Scrapbookers are acid free” t-shirt, Thrond walked the collage of people through what products to avoid, because archivists tend to see most often what not to do, she said.
Avoid acid in scrapbooking paper. Avoid glue sticks, rubber cement, hot glue and scotch tape. These can discolor, warp and stain your photographs. Do not use permanent or dye-based markers. Use acid-free stickers with acrylic-based adhesive. And, most importantly, “avoid unwashed animal specimens” when decorating your book.
The photographs themselves, however, are the most important part.
“Don’t just slap a picture down and assume someone two or three generations from now will know what’s going on,” Thrond said.
The beauty of the photo is in its ability to last, and to tell a story. This is something that won’t happen if you crop off picture labels or let chemicals, either from materials or other photos, to leak onto them. Do not burn your photos for the rustic look. Do not crop for the silhouette look. According to Thrond, one never knows how important the background will be.
“I tend to sacrifice the aesthetics of my page so I can get the information I know I want,” Thrond said.
Too many times in her professional career, she has had to say, “Here’s a wonderful photo, and we’ll never know who it is and whose family it belongs to.”
Scrapbooking, according to Thrond, isn’t about the glue or the paper’s acidity or the fancy scissors. It’s about telling a story, and preserving that story for the future.
“It’s a way to remember things that I wouldn’t otherwise,” she said. “A scrapbook really provides you the context to the story.”
Sophomore Shawna Heilman understands. “It’s wanting to hold onto things, memories,” she said.