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A Genealogist In The Archives: Scrapbooks...A Genealogist's Gold Mine

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Scrapbooks...A Genealogist's Gold Mine

Scrapbooks are one of my favorite record sources to do research in and to also process in the archives. There are all kinds of scrapbooks, each and everyone is unique and one of a kind!

Scrapbooks at Houston County, TN. Archives

The origins of scrapbooking is said to go back to the 15th century in England and it is still a hobby enjoyed today. Most archives, libraries, historical and genealogical societies have them in their collections. They will most likely be found in the Manuscript Collection as part of a specifically named collection.

Scrapbooks could contain any kind of record, clipping, photograph or even candy bar wrappers. One of my favorite scrapbooks that we have here in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives is one that Evelyn Ellis compiled in the 1930's-1940's. Among the normal newspaper clippings and event programs are interesting pieces such as a Baby Ruth candy bar wrapper with a caption "Always remember June 11, 1938 at Beach Grove at the Ice Cream Supper".

This original ticket from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee where Evelyn Ellis visited and recorded her comments.

And this Mexican cigarette that she received from a friend.

There are scrapbooks for just about any subject. Here in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives we have several personal scrapbooks but we also have a couple scrapbooks that were compiled during World War II and contain newspaper clippings detailing the war. We also have a couple scrapbooks that contain only obituary clippings from the local newspaper. A lot of these obituaries are unique because the original newspapers did not survive for the time period and so having these obituary clippings is great for genealogists.

I would encourage genealogists to check with the archives or historical society in the area where your ancestors were from and see if they have any scrapbooks that might contain newspaper clippings about your ancestor. These local scrapbooks could also help tell the story of the area where your ancestor lived and what was going on during the time your ancestor lived there.

Scrapbooks....A Genealogy Gold Mine!



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Scrapbooks: A Genealogist's Gold Mine

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Scrapbooks: A Genealogist's Gold Mine


  1. I was thinking about my grandmother's scrapbook when I saw the candy wrapper and going to comment about her collection of cigarettes. Thought you'd find it amusing since you also have a cigarette.

    1. Debi, Thank You for sharing, I love it! It's amazing what people put in scrapbooks! Thank You for reading my blog!