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.
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For example, college women around the turn of the century used scrapbooks extensively to construct representations of their everyday life as students. Without photograph albums to provide images of these life events, students created unique representations through scrapbooks in order to illustrate their lives using ephemera and memorabilia. A guest list or group of visiting cards might represent a young woman’s visit to a party. A playbill and ticket stub might serve as reminders of a trip to New York to see a Broadway show. Solid objects such as plants, silverware, or small trinkets were also used when further visual representation was needed.