About Scrapbooks: An American History


book spread

HARDCOVER: 224 pages, 12 x 9 inches,
                      Over 450 full color images
PUBLISHER: Yale University Press (Nov. 2008)
ISBN-10: 0-300126-35-2
ISBN-13: 978-0300126358
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Combining pictures, words, and a wealth of personal ephemera, scrapbook makers preserve on the pages of their books a moment, a day, or a lifetime. Highly subjective, rich in emotional meaning, the scrapbook is a unique and often quirky form of expression in which a person gathers and arranges meaningful materials to create a personal narrative. This richly illustrated book is the first to focus close attention on the history of American scrapbooks — their origins, their makers, their diverse forms, the reasons for their popularity, and their place in American culture.

Jessica Helfand, a graphic designer and scrapbook collector, examines the evolution of scrapbooks from the nineteenth century to the present, concentrating particularly on the first half of the twentieth century. She includes color photographs from more than 200 scrapbooks; some made by private individuals and others by the famous, including: Zelda Fitzgerald, Lillian Hellman, Anne Sexton, Hilda Doolittle and Carl Van Vechten. Scrapbooks, while generally made by amateurs, represent a striking and authoritative form of visual autobiography. Helfand finds when viewed collectively they offer a unique perspective on the changing pulses of American cultural life.

Published with assistance from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

A Winterhouse Edition. Designed by Winterhouse Studio.


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Scrapbooks cover A New Book by Jessica Helfand
Coming this fall from Yale University Press

A gorgeous visual history of American scrapbooks and their evolution over two hundred years. 242 pages, 425 photographs printed in full color.

Combining pictures, words, and a wealth of personal ephemera, scrapbook makers preserve on the pages of their books a moment, a day, or a lifetime. Highly subjective, rich in emotional meaning, the scrapbook is a unique and often quirky form of expression in which a person gathers and arranges meaningful materias to create a personal narrative. This richly illustrated book is the first to focus close attention on the history of American scrapbooks—their origins, their makers, their diverse forms, the reasons for their popularity, and their place in American cultural life.
buy the book ->

Best of this year's gift books

The New York Times June 8, 2008



In this Op-Ed page SUMMERSCAPES, Jessica Helfand reflects on the fascinating "Stunt" Book kept by a young California debutante in the summer of 1920.

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came from a distinguished family in Natchitoches, Louisiana. She kept a detailed scrapbook of her adventures that profiles life in the south during the 1920s.

go to
lydia blanchard website ->