Not a scrapbook lady.
February 21, 2011 4:18 PM   Subscribe

I have two large shoeboxes of keepsakes and souvenirs from travels over the past five years, including event tickets, hotel key cards, tourist maps, pub coasters, receipts, photo booth pictures and banknotes in about a dozen different currencies. I don't want them to live in a shoebox any more. What's a good way to organize them into an album of sorts?

I want to keep these souvenirs because I'm fully aware of just how excited I get (as a child and even now) when I find little mementos of my parents' and grandparents' lives when they were younger – something as simple as a 30-year-old postcard is a cherished treasure (as are their college transcripts), and I never really got to see what I consider cool evidence of their actual experiences (other than photos).

For what it's worth, I'd consider trimming some of the stuff, but we saved a lot of it for a reason – the receipts, for example, are all in different alphabets, and the tickets are mostly for famous attractions (e.g. Hagia Sofia). Some of the stuff looks meaningless – like little numbers for waiting in queue at a bank – but they come with fantastic stories that I like to recall.

Ideas that I've considered so far include:

(a) A three-ring binder with baseball card inserts - but the items are of a bunch of different sizes, and I'm not sure that shoving them into identically-sized pockets is the best way to go here
(b) Scrapbooking - I'm not into the whole colored paper and stickers and stamps thing. Also, it's just too much stuff to place just an item or two per page, and I'm not the type to write witty descriptions for any of it.
(c) "Lightbox" type frames - I don't want to show off any of this stuff on my walls. It's just for me and my family.

Also, there's some random stuff like beads from New Orleans, lovely but bulky booklets (e.g. a gorgeous Icelandic Symphony Orchestra season program and a full-color Tokyo callgirl directory), backstage passes with their lanyards and the occasional badge. I'd rather not get rid of them, but can't come up with a good way to keep them unless I stick with the shoeboxes.

So, crafty people of AskMe, what would you do?
posted by halogen to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Isn't this why scrapbooking was invented.
posted by shoesietart at 4:23 PM on February 21, 2011

Best answer: Haha, scrapbooking doesn't appeal to you because you're looking at the scrapbooks made by people who are buying stamps and crap to take the place of all the genuine ephemera that they don't have - but which you do.

Make a scrapbook, where the pages are jam packed with decorate elements, except that every single "decorative" element is a genuine artifact that relates to the topic or events or theme of that page.

That's how you make a scrapbook with depth and value.

And trying to fake that is how companies have established a huge market in stickers and faux-nostalgic charms and images and papers and stuff.

Make a scrapbook that puts the ridiculous scrapbooking industry to shame.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:31 PM on February 21, 2011 [7 favorites]

I came up with what I think is a fairly novel solution to this problem that is simple, elegant and doesn't take up craploads of time:
  1. Procure large sheet of white posterboard
  2. Procure shoeboxes
  3. Gather items by trip
  4. Spread out all items for each trip on white posterboard
  5. Take photograph
    • option 1:
    • Print photo
    • Number the items
    • Write short description of each number on a piece of paper
      option 2:
    • Upload photo to Flickr
    • Tag photograph with descriptions
  6. Throw all the crap into the shoeboxes
  7. Throw all the shoeboxes into a large, old steamer trunk
Congratulations, you have done your part for posterity.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:35 PM on February 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You could do a hybrid- basic scrapbook/photo album pages for the small flat things, clear pockets for the bulky stuff (these are meant for sheets of paper but they expand, or you could get the actual zipping wallet things), all in a binder.
posted by MadamM at 4:39 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've seen coffee tables with glass tops over divided sections. It's a perfect place for a lot of those things. The rest you can put in a scrapbook that you put on top of your table.

One thing I saw in a scrap book I liked was a black paged album, wherein things were affixed and descriptions written in silver marker. Looked very nice, and the black background set off the pictures and ticket stubs nicely.
posted by plinth at 4:40 PM on February 21, 2011 [4 favorites]

I've used photo album pages that have a sticky white background and a clear plastic overlay - you can stick as much flat crap on them as you can fit, in any arrangement. It's like scrapbooking for the lazy!

As for the stuff you can't fit in a notebook, can you pin them to a bulletin board?
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:40 PM on February 21, 2011

Considering that you don't want this stuff on display and that some of would like to be held now and again, I would suggest an antique hope chest or strong box. My wife has an old alligator skin trunk from the 1800's for her keepsakes and it's awesome.
posted by snsranch at 4:41 PM on February 21, 2011

Response by poster: Big Book on its way!
posted by halogen at 4:52 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since you're specifically saving your things so that people in future generations can appreciate it all, do them a favor by writing up descriptions of your trips, and of each piece you've saved and where it fits into your travels. If I found some ticket stub that my grandma had saved, that would be cool, but if it was accompanied by an explanation of why she saved it (it was a ticket to a museum in Paris on her honeymoon, or whatever) that would mean so much more!

At the minimum, list where you got each item, exactly what it is (if it isn't obvious) and a translation if you can provide one.

Have fun with it! What a cool ongoing project!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:22 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Muji has (or had) A3 scrapbooks that don't fit the whole "scrapbookery" vibe, and I've used them in the past.
posted by holgate at 5:28 PM on February 21, 2011

For the flat items, you could arrange collages on placemat sized paper, and laminate them at any office store. Then enjoy the cool placemats!
Hide the three dimensional items in a secret compartment in a drawer - when discovered it will drive those relatives crazy trying to figure out the secret value that made you hide them! Some convoluted clues would be nice too!
posted by grizzled at 5:50 PM on February 21, 2011

Best answer: This is going to sound like scrapbook brainwashing but I promise it isn't!

Go to your local craft store and buy acid free adhesive and an acid free pen. A simple roll of acid free tape will work and an acid free glue stick is great too. Most of the time the stores sell markers as singles so you don't have to get a whole package.

Acid free stuff is more expensive and it is tempting to just go with a Sharpie and a roll of Scotch tape. RESIST THE TEMPTATION!! I was a professional picture framer for years and I saw more pictures and souvenirs ruined by pens and scotch tape than I can list. If you really want this stuff to last for your posterity, then treat it correctly when you're putting it away. The initial investment is totally worth it.

And I totally second the above posters who say you should give a brief description. Even if all you do is give a date and a place it will be so much more meaningful in the future. Also try to list everyone and everything in your pictures. What looks obvious to you (Jane and John in Paris, New Year's Eve 2000) could be totally baffling to somebody else (a guy and a girl in the cold at a place that looks like Europe.)
posted by TooFewShoes at 7:41 PM on February 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

If I were you I'd get an album that you can put sleeve protectors like these into. It seems like the variety of sizes would work well for you.
posted by shesbookish at 8:15 PM on February 21, 2011

Yeah, I think nothing is classier than a nicely done (in the traditional sense) scrapbook-paper pages, photo safe adhesive, plastic envelopes for memorabilia you don't want to adhere-and no cutesy sayings, but some notes when appropriate-journalling, so that you capture the details of your travels. You think you'll never forget, but you will-and nothing will be more precious for your kids and grandkids than notes in your handwriting describing the funny thing that happened on your trip that made you want to save that specific ferry ticket, or whatever it is.
posted by purenitrous at 8:44 PM on February 21, 2011

Best answer: I was going to second the descriptions/captions suggestion - I have some notes made on various family photos by a couple of generations of archivists in the family and it is absolutely fascinating to read the story behind the photo/document. All of the acid-free/archival quality suggestions are good, too - it's very sad to see papers which are falling apart due to poor quality paper and bad storage.

One other thing, since you mentioned tickets - I know many tickets are thermally printed. I'm not a professional archivist, but I know this type of printing can be very hard to preserve. You might want to make high quality color copies as a back-up, just in case the printing or some of the detail fades away.
posted by clerestory at 4:07 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Consider scanning these items, also, because the kind of inks used on items like this is likely to fade over time.

Century Plastics sells tons of supplies for this, if you don't want "official" scrapbooks. (FWIW, I have all the stuff set aside to mount my grandpa's WWII photographs -- and it is all fromCreative Memories but in simple black or white. It can be done tastefully!)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:03 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

As someone who works in archives and avoids handling scrapbooks because of what a headache they usually are, let me advise against any type of strong adhesive and advise in favor of including YEARS for any dates (you'd be surprised at much stuff is just dated "June 11" "February 22", etc)
posted by mostly vowels at 9:07 PM on February 22, 2011

I haven't read it myself, but I've heard lots of folks say good things about this book. It might be worth checking out.
posted by mostly vowels at 9:09 PM on February 22, 2011

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