Digitizing a Scrapbook

Dear Donia,
How can I digitize a scrapbook?



Q. Dear Donia,

My historical society is in the process of moving our historical collection into a new building which means boxing up all of the items in the old collection. During my most recent work session I have uncovered a collection of advertising cards in scrapbook albums (approximately 3,000) that date back to the late 1880's and early 1900's. The majority of these are still in pristine condition but they are glued onto pages. The albums are a thick soft cover. What is our best course of action to keep these in pristine condition but also be able to "share" them with people that might enjoy these old advertising cards? Thank you, Esther

A. Dear Esther,

I have always found it amazing what people chose to put in scrapbooks. I have seen so many with advertising cards to make me wonder if they were the collecting fad of the day.

Removing items safely from scrapbooks is very difficult for someone not trained in conservation and even then, it can be very difficult for conservators as well. Not knowing the type of adhesive used, your best course of action would be to leave the scrapbooks as they are. However, this does not mean that you need to keep them in the dark and not share them with anyone! This is a great example of a collection item that could be safely digitized on a flatbed scanner or with a digital camera and a copy stand. Good images of each of the cards, or each full scrapbook page, will allow you to share them with people and yet keep them safe in the scrapbook. Washington State University has created a very helpful video on digitizing scrapbooks that should be useful. 

I hopes this helps you make a decision on how to proceed. If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to ask "Dear Donia" again.