Trifles, Abominations, and Literary Gossip: Gendered Rhetoric and Nineteenth-Century Scrapbooks

By Mecklenburg-Faenger, Amy | Genders, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Trifles, Abominations, and Literary Gossip: Gendered Rhetoric and Nineteenth-Century Scrapbooks


Mecklenburg-Faenger, Amy, Genders


We Perceive, by the last London Atlas, that scrapbooks and albums are going entirely out of fashion in England. This is one of those foreign examples, which, we trust, will be enthusiastically followed here. We give this information thus early for the government of misses in their teens, scribblers of sonnets, etchers of small designs, and, in short, all aiders and abetters of such abominations.

Anonymous, The New York Mirror (1835)

We are all Scrap-books; and happy is he who has his pages systematized, whose clippings have been culled from sources of truth and purity, and who has them firmly Pasted into his Book.

E.W. Gurley, Scrapbooks and How to Make Them (1880)

[1] In a how-to manual on scrapbooking published in 1880, E.W. Gurley conferred great value on a scrapbook by playfully suggesting that "we are all scrapbooks;" our lives are a series of events that are selected, clipped, and pasted firmly into our memories. Gurley's fifty-six page manual was a comprehensive guide to keeping scrapbooks of all types, purporting to contain "full instructions for making a complete and systematic set of useful books" (n.p.). The little volume prescribed scrapbooking for anyone who reads; Gurley argues that the farmer and the politician, the teacher and the student, the mother and the child, all have something to gain from selecting and arranging printed scraps for self-education. Scrapbooks are suggested as a remedy for the overabundance of the printed word, a way to stimulate critical thinking and reading, and, when practiced as a family activity, a means to a "pleasanter" home and "an advanced standing in society" (13). Gurley's book was only one of many books and articles that addressed the importance of the everyday practice of scrapbooking in the nineteenth century. However, despite the enormous popularity of scrapbooking both then and today, we have only recently begun to account for this widespread rhetorical practice that, by the end of the nineteenth century, was increasingly associated with women and valued accordingly.

[2] In the last twenty years, a handful of scholars have examined scrapbooking practices, typically by concentrating on individual scrapbooks. The typical study examines how a particular author, usually a woman, composes a scrapbook to shape and express her identity. For example, Tucker, Ott, and Buckler's 2006 edited volume The Scrapbook in American Life collects a wide array of scholarship on scrapbooks including essays on a "secret" scrapbook of a nineteenth century prostitute (Bowers), scrapbooks kept by three generations of South Carolina plantation women (LeClerq), and scrapbooks prepared by a young, small town girl during the Depression (Melvin). There are several exceptions to this general trend. A few scholars have worked with groups of books in order to illustrate the various subgenres of the scrapbook to articulate their particular qualities and conventions: Rodris Roth investigates the sub-genre of the scrapbook house, and Ellen Gruber Garvey examines trade card scrapbooks, though in both cases the studies still focus largely on identity formation. Such work has been a valuable recovery of an important everyday rhetorical activity conducted by men and women alike, and in fact, Tucker, Ott and Buckler's edited collection does have two articles that touch on scrapbooking activity by men, "Between Person and Profession: The Scrapbooks of Nineteenth Century Medical Practitioners" by Katherine Ott, and another by Susan Tucker on "Telling Particular Stories: Two African American Memory Books" (one of which was composed by a man). Although scrapbooking studies have repeatedly noted the association between women and scrapbooks, none have really investigated in a sustained way how scrapbooks acquired their gendered perception to the extent that men would now rarely admit to making one and none have considered what the implications of this gendering are for our own scholarship. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Trifles, Abominations, and Literary Gossip: Gendered Rhetoric and Nineteenth-Century Scrapbooks
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.