On Thursday, the American Antiquarian Society's Past is Present blog contained an interesting article on scrapbooks as research source material, and described two such books from the AAS collection. One of them has a banking history connection.
Scrapbooking is quite the popular hobby today, but it's hardly a new idea. People have been compiling images, memorabilia, and the written word since these things existed. While exploring yet another of the American Antiquarian Society's hidden gems, I found we have a wonderfully rich scrapbook collection.
You never know what you're going to find in a scrapbook, which is what makes them such amazing resources. The contents, nature, and character of each scrapbook depends entirely on the creator. Topics can be anything from flowers, to local history, to simply random newspaper clippings someone found interesting.
Just the other day, a reader was looking for resources about P.T. Barnum, and amazingly, we have a scrapbook done by a person who was interested in what he termed “Freaks of Nature.” Hence we were able to provide a scrapbook filled with various images, newspapers articles, fliers (like the one pictured to the left) and clippings from published works, many about P.T. Barnum's circus. On occasions such as this, a scrapbook can end up being one of the best resources for a project.
Another interesting scrapbook from our collection is a compilation of various Worcester banks' dividend earnings in the late 19th century. While certainly not as exciting or intriguing as the “Freaks of Nature” scrapbook, it's a great way to get a localized glimpse into the economy and banking industry of the time.
Imagine the time it would take a modern day researcher to go through issue after issue of newspapers, looking for articles and statements from local banks. But thanks to scrapbooks, if you happen to have the same random interest as a scrapbooker 100 years ago, you're in luck!
So to all you scrapbookers out there – keep it up! You could be compiling the great primary resources of tomorrow.
To read the complete article, see:
Scraps of the Past
Wayne Homren, Editor
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