On Wednesday October 3rd, host Tonya Brito spoke with author Ellen Gruber Garvey about her book “Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance.”
“What did ordinary Americans such as farmers and janitors have in common with extraordinary ones like Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, and Susan B. Anthony? In this fascinating cultural history, Ellen Gruber Garvey explores how Americans from all walks of life created scrapbooks to document, share, critique, and participate in a rapidly changing world of information overload. Featuring over sixty rare and hard-to-find illustrations, Writing with Scissors reveals how people have had an interactive relationship with the media since long before the Internet era.
Writing with Scissors is a window into the reading of the 99 percent of the nineteenth century. It reveals a previously unexplored layer of American popular culture, where the proliferating cheap press touched the lives of activists and mourning parents, and all who yearned for a place in history. Scrapbook makers documented their feelings about momentous public events such as living through the Civil War, mediated through the newspapers. African Americans and women’s rights activists collected, concentrated, and critiqued accounts from a press that they did not control to create “unwritten histories” in books they wrote with scissors. Whether scrapbook makers pasted their clippings into blank books, sermon collections, or the pre-gummed scrapbook that Mark Twain invented, they claimed ownership of their reading. They created their own democratic archives.”
-Oxford University Press
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