In addition to the collection of photographs, tickets, postcards, and other memorabilia, journaling is often a principal element in modern scrapbooks. Journaling is text that describes, explains, or accents the photographs on a scrapbook page. Contemporary journaling can take many forms. It can be reflective and story-like, take a reportive tone, or simply be a list of words. Journaling may also include song lyrics, quotations, and poems. The value of journaling lies in the fact that it provides an account of family histories that may otherwise not be preserved.
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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.