Tuesday, May 21, 2002    


My Grandmother's Scrapbook

By:Lynette Aanerud

My grandmother, Anna, was born in 1890. She was the child of Danish immigrants, and within her century of living saw an incredible transformation of our society from the homesteader's lifestyle of her parents to the technology-driven world of her great-grandchildren.

When Grandma was a young woman, she created a scrapbook of the lovely things that came her way. Living in a homesteader's shanty on the prairies of South Dakota, colorful pretties were probably rare in her life! Contained within that book's well-preserved pages are colored images from several sources--brilliant florals from the seed catalog, fashion designs from the ladies magazines, Valentines she received from friends and family, labels from the fruit crates they got in town, and a few landscapes.

There are no photos in this scrapbook. The two or three sepia-toned family portraits that exist from her early days were probably displayed in the family parlor, far too precious to be pasted with flour and water into a young girl's scrapbook.

There are also no words in this scrapbook. How I wish the words were there! What caused young Anna to choose these pictures for her book? I suspect it may have been that these were the only bright, colorful images that came through her rural home...but I will never know the answer.
How old was she when she created this book? My only hint is the dust jacket she created from a 1921 St. Paul newspaper. But by 1921, my grandma was a wife and mother, and had already lost one child to influenza. She surely had little time for creating a scrapbook amidst her days of caring for little children, washing clothes on a washboard in a tub of water boiled on her wood stove, milking cows in a drafty barn, growing and preserving an enormous garden of vegetables, and sewing all her family's clothing, usually from hand-me-downs others gave the family. I think it much more likely she created this book before her marriage at age 25 to that young German farmer, Fred. Again, I will never know.

What did that young girl think about the world around her? How did she meet and marry young Fred? What pastimes did they enjoy? How did she find out about events in the world far from her South Dakota farm? What was her education like?

While I treasure my Grandma's scrapbook, it leaves me with many questions. It reminds me that in my own books, the beautiful images must be complemented with the honest words to tell the story my progeny will want to know.

Tomorrow at dMarie Daily: Why I love Scrapbooking, by Mercedes G.

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