Make your own Scrapbook

A page from a scrapbook containing several colorful cards advertising businesses and featuring flowers, animals, and children

One of many colorful pages from the “Scrapbook of trade cards, 1877-1894” in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum

Does your family have any special scrapbooks or photo albums?  

Who made them?  



While people have kept journals of their everyday lives for many centuries, scrapbooks as we know them today only really developed over the last 200 years.  The Industrial Revolution made it possible to print things like newspapers, magazines, event tickets, invitations, and calling cards cheaply.  Advances in photography allowed people to trade pictures with their friends and take candid snapshots.

Kids and adults alike enjoyed saving special mementos and photos in scrapbooks, creating “time capsules in book form,” as Mandy from the blog Paper of the Past calls them.


What you will need to create your own scrapbook:

    • A book
        • You can use a notebook, or you can make your own by stapling, tying, or sewing folded sheets of paper together.
    • Scraps
        • Use materials you have around your house – photographs, clippings from newspapers and magazines, pieces of fabric and ribbon, wrapping paper, flowers from your yard, poems, letters, drawings…you name it!
        • Remember – ALWAYS ask a parent or guardian before cutting ANYTHING!
    • Creativity!  
        • You can make a scrapbook with a theme or documenting a special event, but you don’t have to.  This is YOUR story – how do you want to tell it?
    • You’ll also need scissors, glue or tape, and writing utensils.


  1. Decorate the cover of your scrapbook.
  2. Fill the pages with words, pictures, and objects that mean something special to you.
  3. When you’re done, keep your scrapbook in a safe place – somewhere it won’t get wet, faded, or eaten by termites.  Don’t forget to put your name and the date on your scrapbook!
  • Scrapbooking Resources and Inspiration

    To learn more about the evolution of scrapbooking over the centuries, read “The Fascinating History of Scrapbooking.”

    Scrapbooks can be used for storytelling

    The American Girl’s Handy Book, written by Lina and Adelia B. Beard and published in 1893, gives some variations on the traditional scrapbook, plus a tutorial for making and binding your own book.

    The Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives have a number of digitized 19th-century scrapbooks you can peruse, including this delightful scrapbook of tradecards, 1877-1894.

    Many famous people either kept scrapbooks or were the subject of scrapbooks, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Jackie Robinson.  A lot of libraries and museums have online databases – explore them to find more!

The image at the top of this page is by Alexandrabush5 from the personal scrapbook of Hannah de Rothschild Scharps, Smith College class of 1906, Smith College Archives, Sophia Smith Collection. CC BY-SA 4.0