Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) was known to be an avid scrapbooker. He also had the tendency to mock others who made scrapbooks but that didn’t stop him from making money off the 19th century cut-and-paste trend. In 1873, he patented his own self-pasting scrapbook. I heard somewhere that this blank book was actually his best-selling book of all time but I wasn’t able to confirm that rumor. I was, however, able to find an October 2, 1885 article in the Albany Ledger, a newspaper from Albany, Missouri, that stated that Clemens had made $200,000 that year from his books, $100,000 from lecturing, and an additional $50,000 from his self-sticking scrapbook.
|Mark Twain’s Scrapbook|
|Label inside the front cover|
CCHS actually has a Mark Twain brand scrapbook in the archives. The story behind the self-pasting book’s invention was that, while scrapbooking, its inventor would get frustrated with the glue he had to use to stick items down to the page and would let out an occasional expletive. In order to save his family, and the families of other scrapbookers, from such harsh language, he created a book with pages that already had glue on them. The adhesive was like that used on the back of stamps when stamps still had to be licked. One needed only to lightly moisten the gummed lines on the page and press their scraps into place. I can tell you that this was a very effective way to stick items down. Not a single one has come loose from the book in the museum’s collection.
|Blank gummed page|
|Pages from Louise Hughson Way’s scrapbook|
The scrapbook is also filled with dozens of clipping related to happier times. Reading through this collection, we learn that Louise was an active member of Elmira’s social scene. When she was still a student, she and 22 of her female classmates took a trip to her uncle Nicholas Mundy’s farm in Big Flats. The newspaper reported that the Erie train made a special stop at the farm for the visit. An article from after she married describe a party she had thrown as “one of the most brilliant social events of the month.” She socialized with people whose names appear quiet often in stories of Elmira’s past such as Mr. and Mrs. Jervis Langdon, Drs. Theron and Zippie Wales, and Mabel Flood.
The memorabilia Louise saved also gives evidence to how involved she was in the community. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Chemung County Farm Bureau and served on several different organizations’ committees including one in charge of a rummage sale that raised more than $900 for the Elmira ambulance fund and one that organized a May Day fete for 2,000 people. She was also heavily involved in supporting the war effort during World War I. She was a member of the Red Cross and saved a handwritten record of the numbers of soldiers that passed through Elmira on train and what refreshments the canteen service provided to them. When the war ended, she was chairman of the silver committee for the dinner reception that welcomed back the troops. She was responsible for acquiring 1,000 forks, 1,000 knives, 1,170 teaspoons, and 170 tablespoons for the event.
|Page of items collected during World War I|
|Full-page newspaper ad for Hygeia Ice Cream Co., Inc.|
|Pages of cartoons and poems|