One of the things WordPress tells us bloggers is the search string users used to find our blog post. And one of the most common questions has to do with making memory books or scrap books for dementia or other events.
I will write about this topic in two parts. First – why make scrapbooks and memory books? And in a later post, I will write about how to make scrapbooks and memory books.
Scrapbooking is a tradition that goes back a hundred years or more. Young girls and women often kept a scrap book of ephemera to remember important events in their lives. My mother had scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings, birth announcements, greeting cards, report cards and many other mementos of her life.
Following that tradition, I also kept scrapbooks from when I was a teenager and young mother right through my divorce and after. These scrapbooks were kept in traditional paper books and the mementos were attached with glue or tape.
In the early 1990’s companies started to come out with products to make scrapbooking more archival. One could buy acid free products such as papers, pens, photo corners, etc. in order to preserve our memories without destroying them with destructive products.
During this time period, I removed all of the photographs and paper clippings from the so-called “magnetic albums” which did not preserve photos with magnetism at all. These albums contained an adhesive that destroyed the photos by permanently gluing them to the page. Acid ate at the photos as well and they began to deteriorate.
I moved all of my pictures and scraps to acid free archival sleeves to maintain them in albums while protecting them from the elements. My daughters and I all spent a lot of time making memory books and writing (journaling) about the events shown in the photographs.
In addition, we had developed the habit of obtaining copies of our photos in triplicate so we could both keep and share them. Not only was this expensive, but it took a lot of storage space to keep them all. I enjoyed making these books but soon realized they took a lot more space on my shelves than traditional photo books.
Around this time photographic web sites such as the Kodak Gallery (now defunct) and Shutterfly appeared. These companies made it easy for the user to create digital photo albums with journaling to describe the events. My whole family eventually gravitated over to the digital albums because they were easy to create and share.
Types of Scrapbooks and Memory Books
Often we make such scrapbooks prospectively. These scrap books, photo books, etc. were created to preserve photos and stories about current events as they occurred. My children created memory books about the past year or a special event and gave them as gifts to me and others.
I made some to commemorate specific occasions such as my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary and my 60th Birthday celebration. I made some to document trips I took using digital technology to create books to keep and show my friends.
I made some scrapbooks retrospectively to preserve the memories of a specific time or place. I made scrapbooks of my children’s school years that were given to each of them when they graduated from high school.
I had saved their best papers, photographs and stories in a folder (one for each child) without much of a plan about what I would do with them. Then as the oldest prepared to graduate from high school, I decided to make a memory book of all her school years. This was among her favorite graduation gifts and all of my other children then expected me to make similar scrapbooks for them also.
It wasn’t until mom began having memory problems that I realized how scrapbooks and memory books could help mom remember the people and events of the past. Mom kept asking for pictures of my children and for me to remind her of my grandchildren’s names and how they fit into the family structure.
I made calendars with family pictures, photo plates to commemorate special wedding anniversaries, family reunions and other events. One Christmas I made mom a book of pictures of my children and grandchildren, grouped by family to help her remember names and faces.
After mom passed away, I made a book of pictures from mom’s life and a calendar of pictures of mom with her grandchildren. These were gifts to dad for his birthday and Christmas. He spent hours every day looking at the pictures of mom. It helped him with his grief to be able to look at these pictures.