What We Save: Historic Scrapbooks Featured in Key West Art & Historical Society’s Distinguished Speaker Series with Archivist Breana Sowers

On Thursday, March 1, 6:00pm at Old City Hall, Key West Art & Historical Society’s Distinguished Series Speaker guest, Monroe County Libraries Archivist Breana Sowers, will present an exploration of late 19th century scrapbooks. Photo by Nancy Klingenger

Kick off Women’s History Month with Key West Art & Historical Society’s Distinguished Speaker Series guest Breana Sowers on Thursday, March 1, 6:00pm at Old City Hall, 510 Greene Street. The Monroe County Libraries Archivist presents an exploration of late 19th century scrapbooks created mostly by women, using text, ephemera, and photographs to reflect on why individuals chose to save certain items and what that tells us about our island’s history.

Sowers’ presentation showcases scrapbooks from the Monroe County Florida History Department Collection and reveals how they evolved from a rainy-day parlor activity to meaningful, personal representations of cultural and social expressions.

“These types of records are increasingly important as we reflect on the lack of minority or female voices in our history books,” she says.

Alexander Patterson’s mid 19th century maritime log was repurposed as a scrapbook, probably by one of his daughters. On Thursday, March 1, 6:00pm at Old City Hall, Key West Art & Historical Society’s Distinguished Series Speaker guest, Monroe County Libraries Archivist Breana Sowers, will present an exploration of late 19th century scrapbooks. (Provided photo)

Early types of scrapbooking will reveal how changes in printing styles and periodicals influenced Victorian scrapbooking and vice versa.  Examples include a lesson plan scrapbook from the Baldwin family’s Oldest Schoolhouse, the Alexander Patterson Maritime Log, small bouquet books, portrait books, and family bibles.

“Firsthand personal accounts – such as scrapbooks, diaries, journals, and later, photo albums – give a unique insight into daily lives that may never be recorded in a ‘formal’ history,” says Sowers. “The scrapper, or collector, becomes a curator of their own lives, choosing what they feel is contextually important, aesthetically pleasing, or culturally relevant.  Almost a Victorian version of Facebook or Instagram.”

Tickets available at kwahs.org/education/distinguis hed_speaker_series; $5 for KWAHS members, $10 for non-members—advanced ticket purchase is recommended.  Sponsored by the Helmerich Trust. For more information, contact Adele Williams, Director of Education, at 305.295.6616, x115Your Museums.  Your Community.  It takes an Island.

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