Among The Sage Colleges Archives & Special Collection’s myriad holdings, scrapbooks constitute one of the largest, and arguably the most nostalgic, of our collections. A treasure trove of clippings, programs, photographs, and ephemera, the scrapbook collection offers a glimpse of Sage life that other records and documents cannot match.
At their best, scrapbooks are highly personalized and prove much more than a mere compendium of mementos. Photographs taken by the scrapbook’s creator reveal the scenes and moments that moved her, and the people who mattered most. Notes, invitations and signatures from classmates tell of friendship and camaraderie, while the occasional journal entry offers her unique point of view, and the often artful arrangement of personal items reflects her aesthetic sensibilities. Turning the pages of student scrapbooks, we immerse ourselves in the world these young women inhabited. We escape to our imaginations and dwell there awhile, reveling in a bygone era.
The earliest of our scrapbooks belonged to Grace Moore, who began her college career with the founding of Russell Sage College in 1916, and graduated with the Class of 1920. She was a conscientious witness to her college’s founding and growth, who kept a tidy scrapbook for all four years of her tenure. A century later, her scrapbook still holds within it Sage’s earliest memories. Its personal flourishes render a rare intimacy with the past.
Moore cut and pasted newspaper articles documenting the college’s progress, and recorded her memories with each passing year. She took time to jot notes on significant events as well as daily routines, the formal and the informal, the momentous and the quotidian. Many of the programs and tickets glued to these pages document RSC’s firsts: the first newspaper advertisement, the first commencement exercises, the first play. Meanwhile, Moore’s semesterly schedules, class notes, exams, and report cards show us something of the early curriculum. Most captivating, perhaps, are the photographs, which let us look at the early campus, students, and faculty through Grace’s eyes.
Considering its age, Grace Moore’s scrapbook is in relatively good condition. That said, the major components of any scrapbook — paper and glue — have woefully brief life spans, and scrapbooks rank among the most difficult of formats for archivists to preserve.
Though still legible and neat, with most of its adhesive intact, the pages of Moore’s scrapbook are brittle, and the years have dealt considerable damage to its bindings. Because access to this fragile treasure is restricted, Archives & Special Collections plans to digitize the scrapbook in its entirety. Each page is to be carefully reproduced with a special scanner and exhibited online sometime next fall. In the meantime, please enjoy this sneak peak at a few of Grace Moore’s remembrances.