SYW233 – Collecting Vintage Scrapbooks

by | Sep 19, 2023 | Podcast | 0 comments

Mandy Ross has more than 500 scrapbooks… of other people’s lives. She collects “paper of the past,” vintage scrapbooks that mostly fall between the years of 1840 and 1940. In this episode I’m chatting with Mandy about her growing collection, her process of selecting purchases, and her own interests in scrapbooking. This is a fascinating conversation that connects memory keepers past, present, and future.

Links Mentioned

[00:00:17] Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking.This is episode 233. In this episode I’m joined by Mandy Ross, a passionate collector of scrapbooks from 1840 to 1940. Our conversation includes why she loves these personal time capsules, some of her most interesting finds, and her own journey into scrapbooking.

[00:00:50] Jennifer Wilson: Hey Mandy. Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.

[00:00:51] Mandy Ross: Thanks for having me.

[00:00:53] Jennifer Wilson: I am looking forward to our conversation today. You're a little bit of a different type of guest, and I think our audience is going to just love it. But can you start by sharing a little bit about yourself?

[00:01:07] Mandy Ross: My name is Mandy. I live in Santa Rosa, California with my husband. We don't have any pets or kids, but we do have a pretty, uh, bird friendly patio. So I like to think of the hummingbirds as part of my pets. And I collect scrapbooks made by other people, uh, made between 1840 and 1940. And so I don't necessarily scrapbook every day, but I do, I am looking at scrapbooks every day, other people's scrapbooks.

[00:01:34] Jennifer Wilson: So fun. This I, yeah, I can't wait to peel back the layers on your collection and this hobby and how it has influenced you. Um, and I just have to note that we put up a bird feeder, I think it was last, like last fall, and it has just been [00:01:50] so delightful to have it outside like our breakfast table, window and being able to see the birds every day, especially in the spring, and yeah, I love that too.

[00:01:59] Mandy Ross: Yes, fun. And I just added a fountain too, so I have a little bit of the hummingbird feeder plus the fountain and the birds come and they do their, their, uh, cute. You know, water time there is nice.

[00:02:13] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yeah, I remember my grandparents had a bird bath. It was so fun. And I think eventually it broke 'cause it was like concrete or something. But that would be really cool to add. So I always like to ask our guests what is exciting them right now. So what's one thing kind of outside of the realm of scrapbooking in your everyday life and then one thing that's inside of the scrapbooking world that's exciting you right now?

[00:02:39] Mandy Ross: Non scrapbooking would be that I'm a teacher, I'm a lecturer at San Francisco State University, and at the day of recording this, we're about three days away [00:02:50] from the start of fall semester. So I have that back to school excitement, but just from the teacher's perspective.

[00:02:56] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. What subject do you teach?

[00:02:59] Mandy Ross: I'm in the kinesiology department and I teach classes like computer applications and science sport and fitness, and peak performance and research methods and kinesiology.

[00:03:13] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, very fun. I love the diversity of that there. Um, my daughter is an athlete and I'm always like thinking about, she's only 12, but like, okay, should she read like Tom Brady's book? Does she need to like learn about how she can like improve her performance and her mindset in order to be, you know, a strong athlete? So sure those are really fun conversations.

[00:03:34] Mandy Ross: Yes. Yeah, there's a lot there.

[00:03:38] Jennifer Wilson: So what about with the one scrapbooking thing?

[00:03:41] Mandy Ross: My one scrapbooking thing I would say is this morning, so I actually won an auction this morning before the interview on eBay. So [00:03:50] I bought a new, or at least new to me scrapbook. It's on its way. So I thought to myself, okay, I'm gonna wake up early. I'm gonna hopefully win the auction at 6:30. I'll do the interview at 7:30. And that's my nice scrapbooking morning. And so far so good.

[00:04:05] Jennifer Wilson: Yay. Congrats.

[00:04:06] Mandy Ross: Yeah. Thank you.

[00:04:07] Jennifer Wilson: Would it be too bold of me to ask you how much you paid for this? Like, I don't even know, like the realm of, you know, investment, um.

[00:04:16] Mandy Ross: I know the.

[00:04:16] Jennifer Wilson: Collect this type of thing.

[00:04:18] Mandy Ross: Pricing is so, there's no standard price guide. I mean, my goal is always to pay is a little as possible. Uh, to this morning was a hundred dollars. Uh, which it doesn't really mean anything. I've, I've bought really great books for a lot less and I've spent more than that, but.

[00:04:37] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah.

[00:04:38] Mandy Ross: It's hard with, with auctions, you never know. It really depends how many people are interested and all that.

[00:04:44] Jennifer Wilson: Do you feel like you have like a good number of competitors out there? Have you met others who [00:04:50] kind of are in the same sphere as you and have similar interests?

[00:04:53] Mandy Ross: That's tough. I think for me, I have the most competition when there's something in the scrapbook that's highly collectible. So for example, I don't know, people like to collect vintage Santa. And so if there's antique, vintage Santa in the scrapbook, I think all right, if, if the Santa Claus people see it, they're gonna want the scrapbook.

[00:05:14] Mandy Ross: Or people are interested in, let's say, a World War I letter. So if there's a World War I letter in the scrapbook, I'm like, all right, that gives me more competition. But in terms of people who are collecting just scrapbooks, I feel like maybe there's less, uh, that less people who are just interested in the scrapbooks across the board, but I know they are out there too.

[00:05:37] Jennifer Wilson: Okay. Very cool. Very cool. My, I was able to go through some boxes from my grandparents. And my grandma kept a scrapbook all through the war when my grandpa was away. And it was just so neat to look through. [00:05:50] Um, I, it's still at my parents' house, but talking to you and looking at your website, like I know it's gonna make me want to make sure I'm preserving those things as well and maybe even doing some photographing to share with others. So.

[00:06:01] Mandy Ross: Yes. Yeah. Funny for me, I, I don't have any scrapbooks from family members, so I have so many books. They're all from people I don't know.

[00:06:11] Jennifer Wilson: I saw that you had started scrapbooking yourself.

[00:06:14] Mandy Ross: I did.

[00:06:15] Jennifer Wilson: Still doing that?

[00:06:16] Mandy Ross: I started my first official scrapbook in January of 2020. And uh, I had just gone on a trip and I went to London and I thought, okay, let me do a travel scrapbook. Uh, so I got a small, uh, Promptly Journal for that and that got me started. And then when I got home I, I started my first scrapbook. Uh, I wanted to use a, like a 1920s, 1930s style. So I told myself I need, I need a book and I need glue, and I'll see, you know, see how it goes. And I'm actually really glad that I did because now I [00:06:50] still add to the same book even now.

[00:06:52] Jennifer Wilson: That's really fun. Now, so we always ask our guests about their memory keeping bucket list and I, you know, I'm not a hundred percent sure if this question is even relevant to you, but are you including kind of stories of your life in it and is there an important story you still want to like capture in your own kind of broader world of memory keeping?

[00:07:10] Mandy Ross: I like to document really everyday types of things and something I think about a lot is, is how I'm documenting it. Because I see so many different examples in the scrapbooks that I have. So for example, one thing I wanna try to do is have a, like a kitchen or a food themed scrapbook. Um, I'm not really sure how I want to go about it, but I really like when people save different parts of food packaging and it's fun to look back on over time, so I'm thinking okay, how could I do that?

[00:07:39] Mandy Ross: Am I, am I interested enough in food packaging right now? Or do I wanna have a theme or do I want to have it be you know, bracketed by time. So [00:07:50] maybe I'll do just a, what do I find in a month or do I want more of a theme? Uh, for example, I have one book where a lady saved tea tags over a 30 year period.

[00:08:00] Mandy Ross: And so the book, it's all tea tags, and they used to be interesting shapes with interesting designs, sometimes, you know, shaped like a teapot or something like that. And she dated most of them and said where they were from. So I'm like, okay, well that's a theme. Do I want a theme? So I am interested in doing some kind of food, kitchen related documentation.

[00:08:21] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, that sounds so fun. And I think this connects well to kind of your overall perspective is that scrapbooks are time capsules. And so when we think about all of the, the stuff of life and how it changes over time and, um, the tea tag example is just a wonderful one. Uh, yeah, that sound, that's so fascinating. Trying to think of what I would do, like maybe something related to coffee, because I'm always like, go on like a, a, like, [00:08:50] you know, a binge of like, this is the kind of coffee I'm drinking right now, whether it's cold brew or hot. And then, you know, something will shift, maybe the weather and then I'll shift to something else. So that be fun too.

[00:09:00] Mandy Ross: Right. Yeah. Or I'm thinking, uh, I shop a lot at Trader Joe's and their aesthetic is a little bit vintage. Their packaging is pretty nice, so I'm thinking I could focus on that. But then I don't wanna know, I don't necessarily wanna buy things just for the packaging. But I can, I know that I know myself that I would start to do that, and then, I don't know, am I documenting my life if I'm just buying cute stuff? I don't know. So we'll see.

[00:09:25] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, that's an interesting conundrum of, and I think that's something even, we all think about in the kind of the more modern scrapbooking world is how much of what we're doing is because we wanna scrapbook it versus what we do normally.

[00:09:40] Mandy Ross: Right.

[00:09:41] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. Well, and it's okay. Like to have a, you know, a collection of things. People, whether you're a, a stamp collector, [00:09:50] comic book collector.

[00:09:50] Jennifer Wilson: You want, you're trying to collect representative items of a thing, whether or not you're actually using it, so.

[00:09:58] Mandy Ross: That's true and obviously I do have that collector bug. You know, I like to collect things I like to collect scrapbooks, which are in a lot of ways, other people's collections. And so it's hard for me to not collect new things. So like, oh, I, I, I collect stickers now, or like, I collect washi tape, you know? And I just need to be careful. Uh, 'cause I just, I like that process of collecting and curating a collection.

[00:10:25] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. That's how I ended up with all of the inks of one particular line, so for stamping.

[00:10:32] Mandy Ross: Yes.

[00:10:32] Jennifer Wilson: So tell me more about Paper of the Past. It's the name of your blog, your Instagram handle. Um, you mentioned the, the dates at the beginning, but I'm curious, like, can you share your specs of what you collect, um, versus what you don't collect. And then how you'd like to share it?

[00:10:48] Mandy Ross: I say it's easy [00:10:50] for me to say that I, I collect scrapbooks made by other people between 1840 and 1940. That's a nice, it's nice, it looks good in a bio, and it's pretty accurate. Will, will I collect books earlier than that? Yes. Do I have a couple books from 1943 and 1950? I do, but in general, my collection fits into that, um, 1840 to 1940.

[00:11:14] Mandy Ross: And a lot of that is because of the scrapbooking styles that were popular in those times. Those are the kinds that really stand out to me and I, that's what I've focused on over time.

[00:11:25] Jennifer Wilson: I am curious, what is it about those styles versus other time periods that you like you really enjoy or appreciate?

[00:11:32] Mandy Ross: The biggest difference would be that Victorian scrapbooks are typically just very visually pleasing. There's not a lot of.

[00:11:40] Jennifer Wilson: Hmm.

[00:11:40] Mandy Ross: Personalization or handwriting In a Victorian scrapbook. You see a lot of calling cards, die cuts, things like that, a lot of florals. And they look nice, and so [00:11:50] I, for that reason, just because they look pretty, I like Victorian scrapbooks. But when you get into 1900, 1910, 1920s and even the 1930s, that's when people started to personalize their books much more. Where you see handwritten captions, you see photos, because photos are more available by then. And uh, they start to save things from their daily life. So I think of a 1920s, 1930s scrapbook as they had a book and they had glue, and then they went out into the world and tried to see what they could find, almost like a scavenger hunt of saving little pieces of their everyday life.

[00:12:27] Mandy Ross: And that could be anything from, I've seen people, they saved a piece of their roommates wicker hamper. So it's like, all right, we got that. One person saved half a broken record. Another person saved a puppy's tooth. So I'm like, well, there's, I have a tooth, I have a tooth, a puppy tooth. So with those [00:12:50] 1920s, 1930s books, it's, it's the fun of seeing, well, what did people save?

[00:12:54] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, for sure. It's so interesting to see how these, um, what they're saving, what they're using has evol, like, is evolving with what's available. You mentioned photos, um, You mentioned florals in the older Victorian era scrapbooks, what type of florals were they? Are we talking about real flowers that are like dried or are we talking about like images? Um, what does that look like?

[00:13:20] Mandy Ross: I am thinking more of, uh, the die cut scraps.

[00:13:23] Jennifer Wilson: Okay.

[00:13:24] Mandy Ross: So printed, printed florals, and, uh, I know back then the, the language of flowers was really popular and so they just saved a lot of that. There are some pressed flowers, but that is, uh, a little more rare to find in Victorian books.

[00:13:39] Jennifer Wilson: Sure, sure. I'm sure those do decompose as well. How did you get started doing this?

[00:13:44] Mandy Ross: I always loved books, even as a kid. So even as the youngest kid, I would be [00:13:50] excited to save money and buy, go and buy a book, and put a lot of thought into what book am I gonna buy. And I was always reading, I read at recess. I tried reading when I walked to school, which didn't work out very good.

[00:14:04] Mandy Ross: So I've always had this love for books as something that's exciting and fun and all of that. So I think a lot of it comes from that because when I'm buying books, even now it feels similar to that. It's that kind of that excited book feeling, I guess. And I think of scrapbooks as they are, obviously they're books, but they're also beloved books that people made for themselves or for, uh, you know, for memories.

[00:14:31] Mandy Ross: So I think there's a good, there's a nice connection there if I think all the way back to like, well, what did I like as a kid? But moving on from that, I started collecting postcards, old postcards. That's a good place to start if you have a, a lower budget, [00:14:50] especially as a middle schooler, a high schooler.

[00:14:53] Mandy Ross: I would go and just dig through old postcards as often as I could and look for ones with the most personality or the most story, the most interesting thing about them. And I would slowly collect the postcards that I liked. And I think moving from there, once I realized, once scrapbooks got on my radar, it was like scrapbooks are like a postcard times a hundred. 'Cause obviously there's more in there. Sometimes there's postcards in the book. So yeah, it went from, I love books to, I love old postcards to, I collect scrapbooks now.

[00:15:32] Jennifer Wilson: Do you still have all those old postcards that you've collected?

[00:15:36] Mandy Ross: I have some, I do not have them all. Sadly, I wish I did. But I still like, I still like browsing through postcards even now. If I go, it's harder to find I think, these days, but if I go to an antique [00:15:50] shop with crates and crates of old postcards, you know, with the plastic dividers by subject and all of that, I like to pull up a chair and dig through and see if I can find anything.

[00:16:01] Jennifer Wilson: So we go to this um, festival every fall in Indiana. It's called the Covered Bridge Festival. And there's this one vendor that every year they have just rows and rows of old postcards, like thousands of them. And my husband and I are always kind of just digging through them just for fun to see there's locations that are like meaningful to us or reading some of the stories in the back to see what people had to say. And yeah, we just. We love that too. It's really fun.

[00:16:29] Mandy Ross: That is fun. And I, I saw, I have one scrapbook, I think from, I wanna say 1906, and the person cut up old postcards that were sent to them over time, but they're all the really bright color, nice postcards from that time period. And they cut those up and made scrapbook pages by holiday. So there's like an Easter [00:16:50] page and a Christmas page and a Thanksgiving page, and it's all the postcards and there's some loose pieces. So when you look at the back of the piece, you see that it's a postcard with handwriting and postmarks and everything. And, uh, anyway, I, that was a nice mix of my postcard love and my scrapbook love to, to see a scrapbook made entirely of postcards like that.

[00:17:14] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, for sure, for sure. When you like step back, like what is it that you really love about this hobby?

[00:17:21] Mandy Ross: I think it is the, I wanna say like the, the thrill of the hunts and then the surprise. Because I never know what I'm gonna find and I never know what the person is going to save and it's really exciting. Kind of going back to the postcard example is it's exciting to look through a lot of stuff and then find that one story that sticks out.

[00:17:48] Mandy Ross: There's something about that that I [00:17:50] really like. I've always liked the idea of, of thing, like a hidden thing that you find. So as a kid, I wanted to find a hidden time capsule. You know, I wanted to go to some abandoned Victorian house and find a time capsule in the attic or something like that. So for me it's the, the little bit of the mystery of it and then uncovering the mystery. And uh, seeing what people did, just seeing different types of creativity over time.

[00:18:17] Jennifer Wilson: Do you try to like build a persona that like goes with the scrapbook of trying to like figure out based on what's in it, like who was this person, what did they care about? What was their life like?

[00:18:28] Mandy Ross: I do, because for me, I try to buy scrapbooks where the person's personality really shines through. Sometimes that's through their, their style. They have such a distinctive style that you're just, you just feel, or I feel like I know the person, or I know something about the person. I know that they were unique and creative. Or their personality shines [00:18:50] through by what they write, so their captions are funny or they're extra detailed. So for me, I am looking, I do want the person to jump off the page, and if I don't get that vibe, I guess from the scrapbook, then I usually won't buy it. Uh, so yeah, that's a roundabout answer is my goal is that I do really want to feel like the person is there in the book.

[00:19:14] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. Now you mentioned eBay auction earlier, but where are the typical places that you find new scrapbooks for your collection?

[00:19:23] Mandy Ross: eBay is the main source, and I hate saying that 'cause I don't wanna invite thousands of people to bid with me. You know what I mean? But eBay is the place where I can look a little bit every day. I have access to sellers all across the country, if not the world. And if I'm willing to dig and search and all of that and put in the time. If I look often enough, I'll, I [00:19:50] can find, obviously the things that I've found that you can see on on my Instagram and things like that. So yeah, eBay is a great source.

[00:19:58] Jennifer Wilson: And do you like, use any specific archival methods or supplies to protect your collection? How, like, I imagine some of these things are particularly fragile. Um, so how do you store things?

[00:20:11] Mandy Ross: My first thing is if, if the Scrapbook is very dusty or dirty, I do dust them a little bit with brushes, soft brushes and things like that. My go-to box is the the Pioneer Jumbo Scrapbook box. That's what I started with, and now I just buy them three at a time, six at a time. I always have empty ones, new ones ready and waiting.

[00:20:36] Mandy Ross: I also hope that gives me a little luck. I'm all right. I have the boxes. I just need to find something now. And uh, I keep as much as possible, I keep them in boxes. Some don't fit, obviously in that box. And [00:20:50] sometimes that's a deterrent to me, I think, alright. This book, this, yeah, this book is not gonna fit in my box.

[00:20:57] Mandy Ross: I don't necessarily wanna buy it, but if it's really cool, I'll, of course I'll buy it. But yeah, the Pioneer Jumbo Scrapbook box, I have a lot, a lot of those. I like them, they stack well. And then for some books I'll put, uh, archival tissue paper in between the pages.

[00:21:16] Jennifer Wilson: Do you have any kind of like index of all of your books, like spreadsheet, database, Airtable? Or is your blog kind of the record of them?

[00:21:26] Mandy Ross: I, yeah, I don't have an index. I, I think about that a lot because it would be nice to have. I, I have my eBay records. I know tech, you know, I know what I've bought. But for me, my Instagram account is really showing me what I have. Which isn't the best system, obviously. But with my boxes that I have, I [00:21:50] labeled the boxes on the outside and then I started within the last, I think in the last year or two.

[00:21:57] Mandy Ross: I have a color coded system by decade. So I know, okay, all the purple. The ones with the purple tabs are Victorian era, the ones with the yellow tabs, they're from the 1930s, things like that. That helps me have that visual, quick visual, if I'm looking for something specific.

[00:22:16] Jennifer Wilson: And do you have an idea of how many you have?

[00:22:18] Mandy Ross: The number I like to say is 500, but I don't, I'm not sure. It could be, it could be a little bit more, it could be a little bit less, but it's definitely in the hundreds. And because the reason the number is hard is because I also collect letter, like letter lots and diaries and things like that. So I kind of include all of that in the, in the items.

[00:22:42] Jennifer Wilson: Sure. So, you mentioned a little bit of this already, but when you're looking on eBay, you're, you're trying to figure out, okay, is this something [00:22:50] that I wanna bring into my collection? What are you thinking about in terms of what makes it interesting or unique?

[00:22:56] Mandy Ross: I have a few things that draw me in. The first thing is the personality piece that I mentioned before. It, especially because I'm looking on eBay often, so I'm looking for a scrapbook that, okay, I have anywhere from one to, I think now it's 24 photos or something like that. But I have a handful of photos that I'm looking at online. And does the person's personality shine through in the pictures? Uh, that's what I'm looking for.

[00:23:23] Jennifer Wilson: What about like construction or, you know, items used, things like that.

[00:23:28] Mandy Ross: Right. So another thing I look for is I look for things that I haven't seen before. Because I, I have so many scrapbooks now, and I've seen thousands and thousands, you know, looking all the time. And I like to now see something where I go, wow, I've never seen anybody do that. Whether it's a style or [00:23:50] something that they saved.

[00:23:51] Mandy Ross: An example of that would be, it's actually pretty rare for people to modify the cover of their books. I mean now it's probably normal now, but even at Victorian times 1910s, twenties, thirties, you very, very rarely see anybody modify the cover of their book. And so the few times that I've seen that I've, it's caught my attention. And I have one example of a Victorian book, one example of a 1920s book and one example from 1940s. But the 1920s book is interesting because she put a picture of her herself on the cover of her scrapbook and I, yeah. I love that because not only did she modify the cover, but she put her herself front and center, which actually not a lot of people do. So I have this other thing in mind where some people are behind the scenes of their own scrapbook, which I think is okay if that's a conscious choice. But I like to see [00:24:50] that, I like to see the person who made the book reflected in the book. And so she put her face on the cover. I was like, I'm I. that is something that I want to have, and yeah, I'm very happy to have that one.

[00:25:03] Jennifer Wilson: You know, I think that's something that's still that scrapbookers struggle with today. Of, you know, it's sometimes hard to put yourself as the center of attention, even though this is your story that you're telling.

[00:25:13] Mandy Ross: Right, and, and I don't think it's conceded. I, I know some people might be worried, well, who, you know who cares about me? This is about other people, or whatever it may be. To me, the person who makes the book is like the author of that scrapbook. And I like to see that person in the book somehow. And from looking at thousands of books, made by other people, I just see the many different ways that people approach that. Anywhere from putting their face on the cover. And every, every caption is first person. Like, I did this. I did, I went here, I went here. But then [00:25:50] there's other books where it's really outward focused and you almost don't know. You don't know too much about the person who made the book besides obviously that they made the book, but they don't talk about themselves.

[00:26:01] Jennifer Wilson: That's so fascinating. Are there any favorite stories or surprises that you have found and discovered over the years?

[00:26:09] Mandy Ross: My recent favorite is I bought a collection of letters that are, I wanna say there's probably 25 letters. They were mostly written around 1901, 1902, and they're written by a young girl writing home to her family. And the letters themselves are pretty intriguing and interesting. She's talking about going out in nature and what she's doing throughout the day, but the, they get cooler and cooler over time because what happens is I wanna say it's, it's hard for me to piece it together, but it seems like maybe 50 or 60 years later, the younger sister annotates the letters by taping little notes [00:26:50] to each one. And she is talking about like, I remember this happened on this day. I remember the way this smelled. Or she'll say, this must have been dad's birthday that they went to Coney Island, or something like that. So the fact that it's the old letters plus the annotation 50 or 60 years later. And then within the letter collection, there's a note from the lady, the younger sister who's annotating. She writes this little handwritten note and it's, and she's giving the letters to somebody else in the family. It doesn't say who, but says something like, these are, these are the letters I told you about. Feel free to read them and throw them away. Or just throw them away. And, I don't know. Anyway, I could think about that for a while, but the whole lot has, to me, the whole ecosystem, which is the letter writing, which documents the time as it's happening, and then the thought that the letters were saved by the parents and then saved by the sister.

[00:27:49] Mandy Ross: Then the [00:27:50] sister reflects back and writes her own memories on the letters, which is rare. I could talk about that for a while, but . I think people rarely go back and add information to scrapbooks and stuff, so I like when people do that. So she goes back and adds and then she tries to hand it on. And even that little note of not being super sure if the person is going to care.

[00:28:14] Mandy Ross: I think that's a big part of the process too. And to me, the fact that the letters are still all together, at least hints to me that of course they were saved. They were saved. They're still together now. And then for me, I feel like, well, I have 'em now and it's not, it's not in the family obviously, but I know that I'm gonna save them for a long time, and that whole process is fun. It's just a fun surprise for me, uh, especially because I didn't know all of that when I bought the letters. [00:28:50] I, they were intriguing. I'm like, oh, this, those are pretty cool. The price was low. I thought, let me just give it a chance and see. And when I got 'em, when they actually arrived here at my house, I thought, wow, these are better than I even knew.

[00:29:04] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I think it just, it really underscores that that individual stories matter and often even far beyond your own family. Um, we can all learn from them, appreciate them, um, Connect past experiences of others to our own lives. And yeah, just like deepen that sense of, of gratitude and the opportunity we have to keep our own memories. So fun. So fun. Um, so we talked a little bit that you started scrapbooking in January, 2020. Little did you know you'd have to stay home more and perhaps spend more time doing crafty things. Um, what, what led to that and how, and, you know, um, how are you approaching it today? [00:29:50] Um, you mentioned the wanting to do a food thing. Are you, um, still just like journaling in the one book you mentioned?

[00:29:58] Mandy Ross: Well, I did start my first book in January, I think it's January 26th, is the first page of 2020. And I was really excited because I'd just done, I'd just gone to London on a trip and came home. And it was the new year and it was 2020 and I thought, now I'm finally gonna really scrapbook and use everything that I've learned from the collection to what it's actually like day by day.

[00:30:23] Mandy Ross: And yes, of course it became a, uh, pandemic, scrapbook, which was an interesting challenge because I was like, I still wanted to scrapbook, but I was at home, you know, it was a what do you use scrapbook when you just stay home all the time? And I found different ways. I, a lot of lists and I kept track of new words and phrases that were coming up in the news where these are words we would've never, like, what does that even mean?

[00:30:49] Mandy Ross: What is that? [00:30:50] And then we would just have this new word. Uh, I started documenting that, uh, day by day if things would come up. Like, I don't know. Elbow bump, right? Like elbow bump. What's an elbow bump? Oh, that's when you know you can't shake hands and you have to elbow bump. All right. That's the new word.

[00:31:07] Mandy Ross: Uh, so I did that. But, the best part of me starting a scrapbook is it really taught me a lot more about the collection that I have. Because by doing it, I realize, oh, this is what it's like. You, you add to the book over time and it starts with a blank book and you start filling in the pages and every page, it's, it's a page of decisions. You know, I'm, I'm making these choices of like what to include and how to include it. And that's interesting to me. I noticed, okay, sometimes I only have 15 minutes and I'm just trying to get a break and I, so I'm scrapbooking really quickly. Then there's other times when I have all this time, uh, [00:31:50] that I can kind of relax and enjoy the process more. So for me, experiencing that firsthand, it made me understand the, uh, other people scrapbooks. I'm like, oh, it's probably like that for them. And uh, so I'm glad now I'm like, oh, how could I not scrapbook? I mean, I don't scrapbook all the time, but I think now it's an important part of my, uh, maybe weekly, monthly life.

[00:32:16] Jennifer Wilson: So it's so interesting sometimes, uh, myself and others will scrapbook about scrapbooking. So I, if you ever like come across something where somebody's actually talking about their process or why they do this or anything like that, that would be so fascinating to see, um, how it was thought about in the past.

[00:32:39] Mandy Ross: Yes, that is. So I, for what I look for in a scrapbook, the first one's the personality, and then what was my other one? Oh, something unique where I was like, oh, I haven't seen that before.

[00:32:50] And then the third one is if the scrapbook references itself in some way, I really like that. And for example, I'm, I'm looking at something on eBay now where the person, uh, saved a party napkin and her caption is, I risked my dress to save this napkin. And.

[00:33:10] Jennifer Wilson: Wow.

[00:33:10] Mandy Ross: Yeah. And I think, oh, that's so cool. Like she loves her scrapbook so much that , she's going to parties like, oh, well the dress we will see, but the napkin needs to be nice for my book. So I risked my dress for the napkin. And then there was a little birthday cake candle taped to the page, and she said, I asked for this candle for my scrapbook. So things like that. I, I like that. Yeah. Uh, that's another thing I, I like is just people. I think people should include their process in their book, if that's interesting to them. Uh, because it is nice to see. Sometimes I see examples where [00:33:50] the person is planning out the page layout and they've put little, very light pencil, uh, numbers. So it's like, oh, so something's gonna be, number fifteen's gonna be in this corner, and number 23 is gonna be in the middle. Uh, this would be more for like a Victorian style. And it's, I like seeing like, oh, they, that's how they planned it. They sat there and they maybe arranged it and then wrote in pencil where it goes and then glued it down. Uh, that's pretty cool.

[00:34:18] Jennifer Wilson: Oh yeah. And just how much, like, as much as things in the world and everywhere have changed, how much scrapbooking is still like it was a hundred years ago, so, or more.

[00:34:28] Mandy Ross: Yes.

[00:34:29] Jennifer Wilson: So fun. So can you share where we can find you online and anything that you're kind of planning to maybe photograph and talk about soon?

[00:34:37] Mandy Ross: The best place for people to find me would be on Instagram. My account is PaperOfThePast. So anything I do new or anything like that would be talked about there. That's the best place to get an overview of my [00:34:50] collection because I've been sharing on there since 2016, so there's a lot to see. I think as far as upcoming things I am

[00:34:58] Mandy Ross: thinking about starting a sub stack. Which would give me, you know, the option to use like video and audio and all kinds of stuff. And I think that would be useful because I have so many books where I'm thinking to myself like, I'm not doing it justice. It's not like the one carousel post does not capture the whole story and all the interesting pieces of some of these books, most of the books actually. So anyway, I'm thinking about branching out more, uh, in the near future. And then in terms of individual books, uh, I do want to share more about the, the letter lot that I mentioned with the annotations. And then of course, the book I bought this morning is that they already processed the packing slip. It is on its way. And so hopefully I'll be sharing a new book, uh, within a week or two.

[00:35:47] Jennifer Wilson: Very fun. I'm gonna look forward to it. [00:35:50] And I'll include all the links to things you mentioned in the show notes for this episode. Mandy, this has been so fun. I am going to actually look up on eBay, what vintage scrapbooks look like and what the options are, but I promise I won't buy anything, so.

[00:36:03] Mandy Ross: Oh, feel free. But any, at any given time, there's probably 50 scrapbooks for sale on eBay. Yes.

[00:36:10] Jennifer Wilson: Cool. Yes.

[00:36:11] Mandy Ross: Thank you for having me, and I look forward to listening to more of your podcast episodes as well. I think it's, I just love the whole process of scrapbooking and I love people who love scrapbooks, so it's a perfect fit for me.

[00:36:24] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes. That's definitely all that we talk about here. So thank you so much. And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to Scrapbook Your Way.

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