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.
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.