Dec 9, 2008

Scrapbooks: An American History

(NYTimes) - Fascinated by the idea of “visualizing biography,” Jessica Helfand has been collecting scrapbooks for years, she tells us in the preface to SCRAPBOOKS: An American History (Yale University, $45). Helfand comes from a family of collectors, she says, but there may be an even more personal explanation for her curiosity.
One of the scrapbooks she describes here was started in 1918 by a pretty Philadelphia girl named Minnie Hazel Reed, who pasted dance cards, pressed flowers, ticket stubs, calling cards and photographs into her book. Minnie went on to raise a family and live to 101; one of the photographs reproduced here shows her son, a fair-haired toddler in a white lace collar — Jessica’s future father. “She went to parties? There were men who danced with her besides Grandpop?” Helfand marvels, looking at the record of her grandmother’s life. Continued

Photo: Mr. Oliver Coleman, drummer, in the living room of his apartment on Indiana Avenue with his five-month-old son, looking at a scrapbook which has many photographs of bands with which he has played. Chicago, Illinois.
Delano, Jack, photographer, FSA/OWI/LoC