Scrapbooks: An American History Hardcover – 9 Sep 2008
Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
"Helfand persuades us that scrapbooks are far more than mere curiosities. She connects them to broader themes that spark ideas and our imagination."-George Miles, Yale University -- George Miles "Anyone can make a scrapbook, and it sometimes seems that everyone has. From this most democratic of art forms, Jessica Helfand has created a national self-portrait of remarkable breadth, depth and beauty."-Michael Bierut, author of Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design and partner at Pentagram -- Michael Bierut "The history of scrapbooking long predates the recent explosion of interest in this hugely popular hobby. Jessica Helfand uses her subtle curatorial eye and her sharp critical perspective to shed light on this indigenous creative discourse. This book will be an invaluable inspiration to anyone practicing the art of scrapbooking today, as well as to anyone fascinated with American visual history, photography, and popular culture."-Ellen Lupton, Curator of Contemporary Design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution -- Ellen Lupton "Helfand's richly detailed account integrates the chronology of scrapbooks within philosophies of public and individual memory. In her scholarly and engaging work, readers are presented with moments of delight recorded by various people as they made their own way towards remembering themselves."-Susan Tucker, Curator of Books and Records at the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, Tulane University, and co-editor, The Scrapbook in American Life -- Susan Tucker "Wow: what a cool, gorgeous, entrancing, brilliant, mysterious book! The scrapbook fragments-these beautifully presented time capsules of so many bygone times and places and lives-are deeply fascinating, but the effect of the whole is as moving and sublime as fiction. Scrapbooks: An American History is close to perfect."-Kurt Andersen, host of National Public Radio's Studio 360 and author, Heyday -- Kurt Andersen "Scrapbooks are a shared American art form, transcending race and class and gender, fragments of memory that, pasted, taped, and glued into a whole, define the heritage of a family, like a patchwork coat of arms. Jessica Helfand's delightfully charming and informative book is filled with captivating stories about the generations of family members on whose shoulders each of us stands. Pity the family that has no inherited scrap books; pity the reader who does not own this astonishingly delightful book. This is a book that defines our common American heritage, and it is long overdue."-Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University -- Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 by Choice Magazine Choice "Scrapbooks: An American History, by Jessica Helfand, is a handsome, oversized and extra-illustrated volume in the traditional shape of a scrapbook. It is the first serious history of an American phenomenon."-Richard H. Dillon, The California Territorial Quarterly -- Richard H. Dillon The California Territorial Quarterly
About the Author
Jessica Helfand is a partner at Winterhouse, a design collaborative in New England, and a founding editor of Design Observer. She is senior critic in the Yale School of Art and has written several books on design and cultural criticism. She lives in Falls Village, CT.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
That said, modern scrapbookers beware. I agree with the author that the kind of scrapbooking she is presenting is closer to the original meaning of the word and hobby. Everyday scraps of ephemera are collected and pasted onto pages...with no thought to design or it's future readers other than what pleases the maker. It was a beloved personal hobby that can now, unknowingly, give us glimpses into what life might have been like for that person, or at least what might have been on their mind.
I agree with the author that modern scrapbooking has become almost soul-less...all about expensive papers, embellishments and posed photos. In this modern manufactured world, it seems that scrapbooking memories is also as such.
If you are interested in how scrapbooking began, about how generations of women (and intelligent men!) before us saved their memories, you will love this book. If you've gotten stuck in a modern scrapbooking rut and want to put more meaning to your hobby, this book will be inspiring and may change your direction.
The only element that I do not like about this book is that there is a bit of snobbish-ness about the whole phenomena. I respect that Ms.Helfand is an art critic and graphic designer, but I wish that she would have left her opinions about the books she is presenting out and just concentrated on the history of scrapbooking itself.
The people who created the vintage scrapbooks and the people who create modern scrapbooks share one thing...scrapbooks are born of their love, of their sense of fun, and their awareness of the life they are living, however they choose to record that in a book.
I highly recommend buying a few copies to remind people of the love of collecting warm memories. I curled up with a cozy blanket and read it for hours- and then I gave it to my Mom and she read it for hours. We all are information over loaded...but reading this book was equivalent to sipping rich hot chocolate from your favorite mug on a cold winters night.
As for the flap over the author's apparent intent/attitude concerning scrapbooks in general: isn't it completely irrelevant? Judge the book not by its author, whoever she is. Check out the book. It's a marvel. It's a museum between two covers. It's a journey through time. It's a hoot. It's a gem.
As a modern day scrapbooker, I was inspired and reminded to privilege the everyday ephemera I've kept along with my images and notes of random thoughts and comments. For, these examples assert that this "lost" kind of labored expression still exists today, only we've grown accustomed to a blanketed and generalized editing mentality.
I'm not sure that modern scrapbooking is entirely bereft of individuality...but rather the tools of the trade found so easily in craft stores today are not our ready-made "answers to scrapbooking" but should be considered as entry-points to story-telling.
If you are interested in scrapbooking you will enjoy this book. It's a wonderful gift and an unusual take on what it means to make memories.
Scrapbooks: An American History by Jessica Helfan is a book for all lovers of ephmera and Americana. It is neither high brow nor low brow. It captures the passion and history of peoples love of memory. The images are beautiful and the text is accessible.
What is most intriguing, and almost voyeuristic, is to see a persons life progress though the years, the places they have been, the events they witnessed and the people they loved.
To sit with the book is to take a trip through time.
I LOVE THIS BOOK.