In 1953, Margaret, an 11-year-old pupil in Huntingdonshire, created a scrapbook. As a substitute of documenting her personal pursuits and household life, she adorned the quilt with three painted purple shields, and pasted newspaper clippings about Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, which came about in June of that yr.
Margaret was one among a whole bunch of youngsters to create coronation scrapbooks. After years of conflict and austerity, they had been an inexpensive method for folks, notably kids, to mark this nationwide occasion. Now, 70 years later, as celebrations start for the Queen’s platinum jubilee, these books present a window into not simply how kids considered the royal household, but additionally the lives of the scrapbookers and their households.
The coronation led to the explosion of royal memorabilia, resembling mugs, aprons, towels, stamps, video games and toys. Stationers responded with zeal, producing a variety of brightly colored scrapbooks. Scrapbooks captured one thing of the spectacle, reproducing images of the Queen, the royal coat of arms, and the coronation coach on their covers.
The pages of Margaret’s scrapbook seize her reminiscences of coronation day, from watching the ceremony on tv to having fun with a neighborhood fireworks show. She added images of the Queen together with her kids, and labelled footage of the crown jewels and sceptres featured within the ceremony. In infantile handwriting, she wrote quick explanations of the objects and individuals who performed a task.
She additionally painted the coronation chair and maps of the route of the coronation procession, which she rigorously inserted into her scrapbook folder. Different kids tried to file the mountain of memorabilia, sticking stamps and meals packaging haphazardly into their scrapbooks.
A few of the a whole bunch of those 1953 scrapbooks have ended up in archives. Others have discovered their method onto eBay, having lately been found in attics and lofts. Nonetheless others survive in folks’s houses, usually holding which means for his or her households.
During the last two years, I’ve contacted archivists, scoured eBay and tracked down references to royal scrapbooking. Whereas a few of us could be tempted to dismiss scrapbooks as little greater than a craft undertaking, they’re much extra – a gateway into someone’s private world, a method of studying historical past over their shoulder.
Reminiscences for future generations
Scrapbooks provide a glimpse into the lives of people that would in any other case have been misplaced to historical past. Coronation scrapbooks inform us a lot about what folks concerning the time, in addition to their very own reminiscences of scrapbooking, in school and at residence. Our histories aren’t solely these revealed in books, but additionally these rigorously lower and paste into folks’s scrapbooks.
For a lot of kids, the royal household had been the primary topic on which they scrapbooked, recording their first journey to London to see the coronation decorations, or the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony snipped from newspapers.
In 1953, teenage ladies instructed the social analysis organisation Mass Statement how they had been impressed to make their coronation scrapbooks by different members of their household. One lady recounted studying her mom’s scrapbook for the coronation of King George VI in 1937, and made positive that her 1953 scrapbook was the identical dimension so she may be a part of the 2 collectively.
One other lady was compelled to make a scrapbook as a result of she felt it necessary for future members of the family to learn. Her scrapbook wasn’t only for herself, and even rapid members of the family, however with a watch to future kids and grandchildren who would relish the chance to be taught concerning the coronation. The royal household offered an invisible thread between totally different generations of the identical household – made seen by the act of scrapbooking.
Fashionable scrapbooking traditions
The royal household has modified, and so too has the identical widespread impulse to mark royal occasions. Whereas many individuals at the moment are extra more likely to commemorate the Jubilee utilizing pictures and movies in social media posts, scrapbookers can nonetheless purchase themed scrapbook units, full with stickers, playing cards, buttons and gems.
Some museums, resembling Clifton Park Museum in Rotherham, are digging out scrapbooks from their archives to discover how the borough marked earlier royal visits and occasions.
Communities are additionally turning to scrapbooks to file their commemorative actions. Grangepark Care Residence in Peterhead is utilizing a scrapbook to accommodate images of schoolchildren who design commemorative stones, in order that “future generations will be capable of look again and see what we did for the Jubilee celebrations”. In Blisworth, Northamptonshire, the Heritage Society is asking villagers to contribute a web page to its communal Platinum Jubilee scrapbook, impressed from an earlier competitors in 1953.
The identical want to make a file for future generations nonetheless exists in 2022, because it did it 1953, even when the main focus is much less on the royal household, than on how communities have fun nationwide occasions. At the moment’s scrapbooks, like their 1953 equivalents, are extra significant objects within the histories of our households, and our personal communities, than we would count on. Over the financial institution vacation, why not dig round in your attic or ask household and buddies in the event that they made scrapbooks – you could be stunned by what you discover.
Cherish Watton receives funding from the Wolfson Basis.