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Scrapbooking Your Family History

How to Create a Heritage Scrapbook


Scrapbooking with old photographs. Photo: Getty Images/Photodisc/Walter B. McKenzie
Getty Images/Photodisc/Walter B. McKenzie

The perfect place to showcase and protect your precious family photos, heirlooms, and memories, a heritage scrapbook album is wonderful way to document your family's history and create a lasting gift for future generations. While it may seem a daunting task when faced with boxes of dusty old photos, scrapbooking is actually both fun and more easy than you might think!

Gather Your Memories
At the heart of most heritage scrapbooks are the photos - pictures of your grandparent's wedding, your great-grandfather at work in the fields, a family Christmas celebration... Begin your heritage scrapbook project by gathering together as many photographs as possible, from boxes, attics, old albums, and relatives. These photos don't necessarily need to have people in them - pictures of old houses, automobiles, and towns are great for adding historical interest to a family history scrapbook. Remember, in your quest, that pictures from slides and reel-to-reel 8mm films can be made at a relatively low cost through your local photo store.

Family mementos such as birth and marriage certificates, report cards, old letters, family recipes, clothing items, and a lock of hair can also add interest to a family history scrapbook. Smaller items can be incorporated into a heritage scrapbook by placing them in clear, self-adhesive, acid-free memorabilia pockets. Larger heirlooms such as a pocket watch, wedding dress, or family quilt can also be included by photocopying or scanning them, and using the copies in your heritage album.

Get Organized
As you begin to accumulate photos and materials, work to organize and protect them by sorting them in archival safe photo files and boxes. Use labeled file dividers to help you divide the photos into groups - by person, family, time-period, life-stages, or other theme. This will help make it easy to find a specific item as you work, while also protecting the items which don't make it into the scrapbook. As you work, use a photo-safe pen or pencil to write details of each photo on the back, including the people's names, the event, the location and the date the photo was taken. Then, once your photos are organized, store them in a dark, cool, dry location, keeping in mind that it's best to store photos standing upright.

Assemble Your Supplies
Since the purpose of compiling a heritage scrapbook is to preserve family memories, it is important to start with supplies that will protect your precious photographs and memorabilia. Basic scrapbooking begins with just four items - an album, adhesive, scissors, and a journaling pen.

  • Scrapbook Album - Choose a photo album that contains acid-free pages, or purchase acid-free, PVC-free sheet protectors and slip them into a three-ring binder. The size of your scrapbook is a matter of personal preference (most scrapbooks are either 8 1/2" x 11" or 12" x 12."), but consider the availability and cost of supplies, as well as how many pictures you want to fit on each page, when you make your choice. Scrapbook albums come in a variety of styles, with post bound, expandable spine and 3 ring albums being the most popular.
  • Adhesives - Used to secure everything to the album pages, adhesives come in many forms, including photo corners, photo tape, double-sided adhesive strips, and glue sticks.
  • Scissors - Available in both straight-edge and decorative-edge, scissors help cut your photos into interesting shapes, and crop out any unwanted areas.
  • Journaling Pens - Acid-free, permanent markers and pens are necessary for writing down important names, dates, and family memories, as well as for adding fun doodles and pictures to your scrapbook pages.
Other fun scrapbooking supplies to enhance your family history scrapbook, include colored and patterned acid-free papers, stickers, a paper trimmer, templates, decorative rulers, paper punches, rubber stamps, computer clipart and fonts, and a circle or pattern cutter.

Next Page > Step-by-Step Heritage Scrapbook Pages

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