Fan magazines and scrapbooks.

Thanks to some good luck on eBay, I recently came in the possession of two scrapbooks, one from 1929 and one from 1932. While I’ve been collecting fan magazines for years, these are my first scrapbooks and they provide some fascinating insights in the ways audiences interacted with various magazines.

I found the contrast between both of them particularly fascinating. The first, which dates from 1932, is by far the more well-preserved and aesthetically beautiful; it only features pictures and particularly focuses on beautiful, full-colour cover images.

scrapbook4  scrapbook3

scrapbook2  scrapbook1

The 1929 one is less well-preserved, but it is much more personal. It contains a larger amount of different types of clippings, including star images, but also other pictures, jokes, cartoons, etc.  Interestingly, this scrapbook also contains a number of annotations, such as on the image below, where the author asks herself “What will 2025 be like?”.

scrapbook5 scrapbook6 scrapbook7 scrapbook8

Do any other NoRMMA members own one or more scrapbooks of this nature? Let us know in a comment below!

  3 comments for “Fan magazines and scrapbooks.

  1. 10th March 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Lies, thanks so much for sending me your newsletter. This site looks brilliant and its focus is so exciting. I hope you don’t mind me commenting once in a while even though I’m not directly involved in Film Studies at present.

    I LOVE this sort of thing! I’ve got a few scrapbooks of a similar nature, all of which focus (primarily) on Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier – one was compiled by a British film and theatre fan in the mid-1940s; another was compiled by an American actress who performed with the Old Vic Company in 1936-37; the third was compiled by a lady called Ruth Harrison who actually worked as an accountant of sorts for Laurence Olivier Productions, and it includes clippings from LOP stage productions, as well as a hand-written letter from Olivier and one signed by the famous agent Cecil Tennant.

    It’s interesting to look at how and why these scrapbooks were compiled, and to what level the compiler went to document and label the contents. My favorite is when random newspaper clippings are labeled with the date and publication title, otherwise it can be a time consuming pain to try and figure out where they came from!

  2. 19th April 2015 at 9:59 am

    Movie scrapbooks have a long history. Starting in the 19th century, theater fans compiled scrapbooks that documented their theatergoing, and included theater programs, ticket stubs, and pictures of actors. Sharon Marcus has written about finding a trove of these. https://scrapbookhistory.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/theatrical-scrapbooks-article-by-sharon-marcus/
    In my research on scrapbooks for my book Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance, I have seen many theater fans’ scrapbooks, and also scrapbooks kept by actors themselves. In an era when actors’ performances were ephemeral, scrapbooks had a particular value in preserving a record of their work. Some actors who transitioned from stage to screen kept them as well — you can find Molly Picon’s scrapbooks digitized at the Center for Jewish History, for example: http://digital.cjh.org
    I own a Shirley Temple scrapbook from the 1930s, bought on ebay, which preserves newspaper articles about her — one on her going on a diet as a 4 or 5 year old. Other scrapbooks preserved movie materials more incidentally. A fascinating scrapbook in the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s collection. Many scrapbook makers reused old books or ledgers to paste their clippings in, rather than buying new blank books. This scrapbook was pasted into the business ledger a slave-owning family kept in the 1840s. In the 1910s and 20s, it seems to have been used by children of the family, who pasted over the lists of slave names with baseball pictures, and in one case an ad for a movie version of Tom Sawyer.
    I think movie studio publicity departments encouraged fans to make scrapbooks. It would be interesting to check fan magazines to see whether some items are designated “for your scrapbook,” or whether guidelines for fan clubs recommended it. Were there any contests to compare them?

    • normma
      21st April 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks so much for this long & thoughtful comment!

      While my own work so far has been mostly concerned with fan magazines, I am increasingly interested in scrapbooks as well, in part because – as you say – they were really a way for fans to preserve otherwise ephemeral performances and moments, to be reflected upon months or even years after they saw a particular theatrical performance or film. (In terms of films, this provides an interesting connection with fan magazines, since these too essentially served to give fans something to collect, reread, cut out, hold on to.)

      I can’t answer your questions re: whether fan clubs or magazines encouraged people to compile scrapbooks, whether there were any comparative competitions, etc – but I will definitely look into it. It certainly sounds like something the studios would encourage.

      Thanks for the link to the Scrapbook History blog, as well – off to peruse it now! Fabulous stuff.

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