A Scrapbook By Any Other Name?

"Mixed Pickles," leaf from the Westmoreland Album (1864/70), watercolor and ink photocollage designed by Victoria Alexandrina Anderson-Pelham, Countess of Yarborough and Eva Macdonald.

While back visiting New York recently, I unexpectedly encountered this delightful exhibition during a routine trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage displays the heretofore little known work of nineteenth century women who compiled these meticulously crafted albums, which contain individual leaves that creatively and often humorously juxtapose and incorporate cut up pieces of studio portrait photography within the artist’s own watercolor designs.

Do these sound like scrapbooks to you?

While I don’t think we have any examples in our collection of scrapbooks that are quite as classy, we have uncovered some pretty interesting ones during the course of the ongoing scrapbook cataloging and preservation project.

And who knows what wonders may be found among the Special Collections Division’s collection of photographic albums?  You may get your chance to ask, when Visual Materials Curator, Nicolette Bromberg, gives a presentation on the photographs of Viretta Denny at the next Seattle Area Archivists membership meeting on March 11, 2010.  You can read more about that event on their blog.

In the meantime, I have checked out the Libraries’ only copy of the exhibition catalog of the photocollage show, but promise to return it soon.


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Although I am a native New Yorker, I seem drawn to the Pacific Northwest. My current gig as Manuscripts & Special Collections Cataloging Librarian at the University of Washington Libraries represents my third stint out here. Prior to coming to the UW, I have worked at the New York Public Library, King County Archives, New York University, and Columbia University (to name but a few).

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