I remembered that in Julia Colman’s 1873 article “Among the
Preface: McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader
Scrap Books,” a shocked visitor finds a family “using up good printed books!” to make scrapbooks. The mother presiding over the scissorizing explains, “There is nothing in them that we want, and so we propose putting in something, rather than have them stand idle. … Some of them are old school-books, not much worn, but out of date.” I always assumed she meant geography books or science books, not readers. Perhaps this McGufffey’s was simply out of date for the family that owned it, with no more schoolchildren. I may have to see it.
I’ll be speaking on repurposed books at the Local Americanists series at UMD College Park on Friday. I have to find out where the picture on this gorgeous poster came from! Come if you’re in the area. Thanks to Ingrid Satelmajer and Bob Levine for the invitation. This will also give me a chance to revisit the amazing Joseph W. H. Cathcart scrapbooks at Howard University. These are the over 100 scrapbooks made by a 19th century African American janitor who stamped some of his books “GSBM” for the Great Scrapbook Maker.
in a mourning journal. Rachel Feder will take us transatlantic with her work on women’s daily writing and the origins of experimental poetry. I’ll focus on the ways scrapbook makers and others have repurposed books –and the story of a recent book repurposing scandal.
The talk will take place in 523 Butler Library on the Columbia University Morningside campus (535 West 114th Street, NYC) Take the 1/9 train to 116th street. (Bonus: you can get into Butler Library this way.)
I had the treat of speaking to the Book Arts Guild in Seattle Nov. 1. What fun to connect the scandal of reality TV star Lauren Conrad turning book spines into box decorations with the reuses 19th century scrapbook compilers made of books!
Sandra Kroupa with scrapbooks
Early 20c scrapbook made up of hacked up early printed books and bits of medieval manuscripts. Don’t do this!
Book Arts and Rare Book Curator Sandra Kroupa laid out an array of the University of Washington’s scrapbook treasures. They included the truly horrifying work of a man who had hacked up early printed books and medieval music manuscripts to save the choice bits in his scrapbooks. He probably thought he was engaged in scholarship or some form of preservation — saving the best of these books. It reminded me of the collection of snipped off decorative letters from medieval manuscripts that another collector donated to the Marmottan Museum in Paris. Far more troubling than Lauren Conrad fiddling with Lemony Snicket.