Saturday, July 26, 2008

The World in Scrapbooks

[first posted on 26 July at 10pm BST, updated on 27 July at 2pm BST]

A small selection of scrapbooks

Today I've been poring over a collection of 40-50 scrapbooks that Fuengsin Trafford, my mother, made over the course of three decades from the 1950s to the '80s. My father (Anthony Trafford) informed me that she had started creating these in Thailand, probably during her teenage years; and that after she arrived in the UK in 1963 and subsequently settled here, she had her collection shipped over, though not until the family had moved to Hagley in the '70s. He was able to help her keep building the collection by bringing home old magazines from work.

The scrapbooks are composed from newspaper and magazine articles published mainly in the '50s through to the '80s. The publications are mainly in English and French with some German and Thai - large glossy publications including London Illustrated, Picture Post, Paris Match, Jours de France, Life, Look, Bunte, Neue Illustreirte, Quick and the Bangkok Post. Most of the books are hard bound, nearer A3 than A4 in size, and containing 100-200 pages, so they are really quite substantial. They are generally well preserved, my mother having used rice glue for the adhesive, which has stood the test of time remarkably well.

I'm wondering what should be done with them and would welcome suggestions! There's a lot of educational value in these that I would like to share.

The topics are very wide-ranging, covering many world events, figures and other items of historical and cultural significance - reflecting a Thai lady's considerable interest in world affairs as perceived in the West. Here are some themes, many of them covered by entire books:

  • Royal Families - including articles from 1952 and 1953, shortly after Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne, and also other members of the House of Windsor; many other royal households, mainly European, but some others including the H.M. King Bhumipol of Thailand and the Shah of Iran
  • US Presidents including Franklin D Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, John F Kennedy, Richard Nixon and Lyndon B Johnson
  • Winston Churchill (2 books alone)
  • Charles De Gaulle
  • China - it's history from 19C onwards until Mao
  • Vietnam - a whole book devoted to this, covering an extended period
  • Russia - under the tsars and communism
  • Rhodesia - especially Ian Smith
  • India/Pakistan and Kashmir
  • Space exploration - starting with the race to put the first man in space from the '50s onwards
  • Popes John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II
  • Some other religious reflections and phenomena, including lives of the saints
  • Art and artists, especially impressionist and Picasso
  • Film stars and fashion icons
  • The Beatles (but few other pop musicians
  • UK politics, especially Harold Wilson and Edward Heath
  • UK current affairs - the first nuclear power stations, motorways, completion of the Severn bridge etc
  • Anthropology - including articles in English and French on the Swiss Family Robinson!

The books are impressive, covering many situations in considerable depth, so I expect they would be of academic interest, but should the collection be split up or kept intact?

My mother related that she had been inspired by a close friend in Thailand, whom she regarded as an 'Aunt' - a lady who collected scrapbooks in the '30s and amassed 800 of them! They were subsequently donated to a library. Perhaps a library would be the best place for this collection?

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