Treasure Chest Thursday: Family Scrapbooks, Photo Albums, and Shoe Boxes

Section of page 2  in Edith Roberts' college scrapbook with sorority invitations. (Apologies for the poor copy- it was a photocopy in the days before scanners.)
Section of page 2 in Edith Roberts’ college scrapbook with sorority invitations. Edith was attending college about 1919- very few women were enrolled at the University of Iowa (in Iowa City) in those days. (Apologies for the poor copy- it was a photocopy back in the days before scanners.)

I recently read a great post that was linked on the Oct. 12, 2014 GeneaBloggers Daily by Gordon Belt: Scrapbooks: the Original Social Media. The article is by Katherine Hoarn, and her premise is intriguing:

“As a means of creating and communicating self, … scrapbooks operate in much the same way that popular forms of social media do for students today.”

Ms. Hoarn continues in her article to discuss how scrapbooks served the same purpose years ago as Facebook does now- to allow communication between family and friends and give a sense of who the person was at a certain point in their life.

Scrapbooking- and by extension the paper ephemera passed down that we family historians so cherish- is also an act of curation, Ms. Hoarn explains.

12 June 1892- Will McMurray's Graduation program from Newton High School, Newton, Iowa.
12 June 1892- Will McMurray’s Graduation program from Newton High School, Newton, Iowa.

She compares this collecting of text and images to Pinterest and Tumblr sites that showcase interests, passions, and events. Whether neatly organized onto boards on Pinterest or into a scrapbook, autograph book, photo album, diary, or even a shoebox, most of what we have inherited has been culled through generations to be the most important ephemera of a life. If we are lucky, we may even have commentary attached to give us more insight into a life.

"Heap good shot. Ketch plenty fish." Probably William Hanford Aiken.
“Heap good shot. Ketch plenty fish.” Probably William Hanford Aiken about 1910, when he was living in Florence, Colorado with his family.

Instagram, of course, is today’s electronic version of the photo album and if we are REALLY lucky, our old images will also be “tagged” with names, dates, and places.

Mabel Mulhollen is written on the back, Nov. '28 [1928] on the front.
Mabel Mulhollen is written on the back, Nov. ’28 [1928] on the front. Sadly no place clues for this photo.
A caption can touch our hearts or give us a giggle- sometimes both at the same time.

About 1929? Edward A. McMurray, from his own photo album in which he wrote the captions, created  in the late 1940s.
About 1929? Edward A. McMurray, from his own photo album in which he wrote the captions, created in the late 1940s as he was preparing to get married.

As one who laments the passing of paper and worries what treasures will be left for the next generations to cherish in their even more ephemeral electronic world,  I truly treasure the scrapbook, photo albums, and shoe boxes of photos and papers left by our ancestors. I am so glad that we do have ways of sharing the old-timey via new technology, though, so all can gain a bit more insight into those who have gone before.


Notes, Sources, and References:

1)  Geneabloggers Daily:

2) In the near long ago, boys graduated to long pants as they matured- a rite of passage that was longed for by many, much as our generation cannot wait until we can drive.

3) While searching for appropriate pictures for this post, I found the above image of Mabel- we have a younger picture of her that until this moment we thought was the only one- see Mystery Monday: Mabel Mulhollen. She may be more important in our family than we realized since there is more than one photo of her. We can also use this photo of her at an older age to compare to other family images from the same time period that include people we do not know. Is she family or part of the FAN Club? More research needed.

4) FAN Club= Friends, Associates, Neighbors; researching these folks can help us learn more about our ancestors.

5) The Newton (Iowa) High School Class of 1892 included Lillie Brown, Ella Clarkson, Marie Hass, Henry Jasper, Fred Kennedy, Belle Lambert, Artie McKinley, Willie McMurray, Hettie McCord, Fred Meredith, and Lillian Patten.

Mystery Monday- Mabel Mulhollen

"Mabel Mulhollen, cousin to Dottie Lee."
“Mabel Mulhollen, cousin to Dottie Lee.”

This photo was found in with the papers and photographs of Dorothy Adele (Aiken) and Samuel J. Lee. We do not know how the Mulhollen and Aiken families are connected. Dottie, as she was called, was born 01 June 1884 in Black River, Lorain Co., Ohio to William Hanford Aiken (1859-1942) and Dora J. Russell (1864-1935).

There is a Mabel Mulhollen found in the 1910 US Federal Census in Reade, Cambria, Pennsylvania. Mabel was living with her parents, Fleming and Hester (?) Mulhollen and she was 6 years old. Her father was a farmer. She is found in the same family and place in 1920, working as a telephone operator at age 16. This Mabel would have been 20 years older than Dottie, but that is possible with cousins.

Find A Grave has a listing for Mabel Mullhollen North. It states her mother’s maiden name was Glasgow, and that Mabel was married to Blair S. North (1901-1973). Their children were Betty, Ruth, Jack, and Walter Blain North. Per FAG, she died 06 Jul 1976 in Pennsylvania, and is buried in Allemansville Cemetery,  Allemans, Clearfield, Pennsylvania.

We would be very interested in learning how Mabel was related to Dottie- please contact us if you know.


Notes, Sources, and References:

1) 1910 US Federal Census for Mabel Mullhollen: Source Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Reade, Cambria, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1324; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0149; FHL microfilm: 1375337. Accessed 11/18/2013 on

2) 1920 US Federal Census for Mabel Mullhollen: Source Citation: Year: 1920; Census Place: Reade, Cambria,Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1547; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 219; Image: 942. Accessed 11/18/2013 on

3) Find A Grave Memorial for Mabel Mullhollen North, Memorial # 89226566., accessed 11/18/2013.


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