by Debbie Hodge

“archival” scrapbooking in the 90s

When I began scrapbooking in the mid 90s (this was following the photo-albuming I’d been doing until then) I immediately learned that to scrapbook well, using supplies low in acid content was crucial for my photos’ assured long life. And I believed! Of course I believed: I have several of those peel-away albums (still) degrading my older photos.

There were several years during which I was “archival” compliant (kind of like ISO9000 compliant). And then . . . I got a digital camera and a color printer — and I could, thus, make scrapbook pages with photos I’d just taken. Still  I considered these home-printed photos temporary–I wasn’t really sure of the ink and the paper—and it seemed humidity could affect them. So I ordered professionally printed photos and subbed them in . . . as I had time.

The thing is . . . I stopped making time and many pages are still waiting for those professionally printed photos to be subbed in. Every once in a while I pull a few pages and start replacing the home-printed photos–but, dang!, if a lot of my old chipboard alphas aren’t falling off now. Sometimes I get them reaffixed. Other times I put them in a bowl with all of my strays, mostly confident I’ll remember which page they came from.

“archival” scrapbooking in 2010

What happened to me? Why did I let my archival guard down?

You probably know why: because of technology.

I left out part of my story above. Because I was publishing scrapbook pages in magazines for several years, I was scanning all of my pages. Not only was I scanning them—-I was opening them in Photoshop and dragging over DIGITAL versions of the photos so that the scanned pages looked as good as possible. With these scanned pages accumulating –and storing so nicely on my hard drive–I’ve started to lose my sense of urgency about fixing up the paper pages. They are what they are. They’ll last for . . . however long they last. . .and my archives? They’re digital now!

I now make both paper and digital pages, but I always make my paper pages 11.5″ x 11.5″ for easy scanning. And I make sure to scan at 300ppi. I make a variety of albums (either bound at Shutterfly or printed and slipped into page protectors) — and any of them can include any of my paper or digital pages.

When I think about how my family or I might view these pages in 10 years, I imagine it’ll be on something like a digital tablet.  Yet, really, I understand that it’ll be on something I haven’t even imagined–but I’m confident it’ll display digital images.

There might be someone who will appreciate my paper pages  in the future. . . or maybe not, but I’m no longer worried about my records decaying  — in the traditional way. The archival worry now is for the digital medium upon which I store my scrapbook pages. I keep my pages on my computer’s hard drive, and on an external hard drive, and I upload them to Shutterfly, and I use Mozy to back up everything offsite.

And I’m optimistic about the possibilities for preserving, mixing, and sharing all of my “scrapbooked” memories.