During the 19th century, scrapbooking was seen as a more involved way to preserve one’s experiences than journaling or other writing-based forms of logging. Printed material such as cheap newspapers, visiting cards, playbills, and pamphlets circulated widely during the 19th century and often became the primary components of peoples’ scrapbooks. The growing volume of ephemera of this kind, parallel to the growth of industrialized society, created a demand for methods of cataloguing and preserving them. This is why scrapbooks devoted solely to cataloguing recipes, coupons, or other lists were also common during this time. Until later in the 19th century, scrapbooks were seen as functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. Several factors, including marketing strategies and technological advancement, contributed to the image of scrapbooking moving further toward the aesthetic plane over the years.
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The advent of modern photography began with the first permanent photograph created by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. This allowed the average person to begin to incorporate photographs into their scrapbooks. However, books or albums made specifically for showcasing photographs alone were not popularized in the United States until closer to 1860. Before that point, photographs were not thought of as items to be reproduced and shared. Demand for photo albums was spurred on in large part by the growing popularity of the carte de visite, a small photograph distributed in the same manner one might a visiting card.