Treasures from the Rare Book Room: Scrapbooks

clayton2The idea of preserving memories, special moments, and histories in albums using scraps such as prints, bookplates, quotes, poems, calling cards, paper cutouts, press clippings, and photographs is not a new concept. In the United States, with the invention of photography and the appearance of a variety of patented photography and scrapbook albums, scrapbooking gained popularity in the 19th century. Today’s renewed interest in genealogy keeps the art of scrapbooking alive.

Falk Library has several interesting scrapbooks in its collections. There are albums from the School of Dentistry and the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic documenting Pitt’s contributions to research in related disciplines as well as illustrating special dentistry collections focused on the history of anesthesia. Other impressive topics include: a volume on curious customs, miracles and psychic occurrences, and three scrapbooks on the supernatural with newspaper clippings from the 1920s and 1930s on vampires, fortune tellers, human sacrifices, and magic. There are also two unique albums from the 27th Base Hospital in Angers during WWI and 27th General Hospital in New Guinea during WWII. Finally, there is a scrapbook honoring Lillian Clayton.

clayton1Sarah Lillian Clayton (1874-1930) was a nurse and a Superintendent of Nurses at Philadelphia General Hospital (PGH). She graduated from PGH Training School of Nursing in 1896 and began a nursing career that took her to Dayton, Minneapolis, and Chicago, only to return and complete her career in Philadelphia where she started. She became a national leader in nursing education, active in many organizations, and served as president of the National League for Nursing Education (1917-1920) and the American Nurses Association (1926-1930).

Clayton’s scrapbook was prepared by Florence Anna Ambler (Hay), one of her students and acolytes in 1930. It is a tribute to the distinguished nurse and includes photographs, press clippings, and typescripts of correspondence to and from Miss Clayton. In 1958, the scrapbook was donated to the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Today it can be viewed in the Rare Book Room by appointment.

~Gosia Fort