Men and women 150 years ago grappled with information overload by making scrapbooks—the ancestors of Facebook and blogging. Women’s rights scrapbook makers documented women’s pioneering participation in the public realm and experimented with ways to present it. African Americans created massive compilation scrapbooks that acted as repositories of communal knowledge and passed along a critical, oppositional reading of newspapers. Newspapers, they understood, provided a set of voices and conversations to read critically, not a simple record. In this lecture, Ellen Gruber Garvey reveals a previously unexplored layer of American popular culture, where activists collected and constructed new narratives to create “unwritten histories” in books they wrote with scissors. The Massachusetts Historical Society will display some of the scrapbooks used in the research for this book. Reception at 5:30, talk at 6 pm.
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