Thursday, July 29, 2010


There is an Altered Art Party going on at the
French Cupboard.
I thought I would join in even though I am not very creative when attempting altered art, but I happen to have my step-great-grandmother's commonplace book from the 1890s to show off.

Are you familiar with Commonplace Books? They are the predecessor of what today we know as altered art. Essentially they are scrapbooks filled with every kind of written word: quotes, letters, poems, tables, obituaries, drawings, etc. Readers, students, etc. used them as an aid for remembering things they had learned. Below is my step-great-grandmother's commonplace book from the 1890s. Always using what she had on hand, she took a previously read book and pasted her notes and clippings on the pages. She then embroidered a new cover for her scrapbook.

Tucked inside the front cover are some clippings that she never found time to glue in, including a news article about some one's suicide.

Tables of Weights and Measures and Marriage Anniversaries

Obituaries and Poems

Cute drawings for inspiration, as she was an artist.


Going through this book has given me a glimpse of a woman I barely knew. My great-grandfather, after being widowed with two young boys, came to Colorado from Maine in the 1880s to start a new life. After his boys were raised, he sent for 'Auntie Evelyn' to come west to be his new wife in 1897. She was considered a spinster at the age of 29 when she was dispatched to Colorado! We have the train ticket that he sent her for her journey. They were married for 41 years until his death in 1938; she lived until 1950 in the West, far from her family and in a place that must have felt so foreign to her.

Just a look into another time and era.


Rachel said...

Wow waht a unique story! I never knew of the ART BOOKS history... thank you! Funny... I posted a few altered books that I made but I only designed the covers. I will leave it up to the recipients to design the story inside!
Thanks for sharing!

Ozma of Odds said...

...this is very unique!! ~ and thank you for sharing this with us.
xo, Rosemary

Gypsy Fish said...

What a wonderful treasure to have...she must have been a unique woman you're so very lucky!

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Wow...that is the coolest piece of altered art and I am so glad you shared it with us. you never think of people committing suicide back in those days but I guess there are troubled minds no matter what the century. Happy AA day and have a great weekend. ~ Lynn

Cheryl~ZanyMayd said...

What a Unique way of displaying History ~ certainly an Altered Art Treasure.... Love It

kecia said...

thank you for sharing that - i didn't know about those types of books before. love all the history and makes me wonder about the person who saved all those clippings and such.


Anonymous said...

Sally you are just a plethora of information friend!!! And I always get just a teeny tiny bit jealous as you know so much of your family history!

How is the Window project coming along?

Yes I would love for you all to come in September!! Could you give me a few dates that look like they would work for you and we can see about setting a date!! YAHOO! Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays are not good for us with pre-schedules ministry stuff- other days are a little less structured so that we can move things around a bit if needed.

bee blessed

Susie Q said...

This is such a treasure Sally! What a wonderful way to preserve history...and nothing is more precious than family history.
I have been a terrible blogger this Summer but I hope you know you are always in my thoughts and heart!!
YOU are definitely one of the blog friends I plan on hugging in real life someday soon!!! I treasure you!


Shelia said...

Hi Sally! I've missed you! Oh, what a wonderful story and I love all of the 'keepings' you have of your family! You do have wonderful stories. Are they all written down to pass on to your younger ones some day? I wish I had more stories of my relatives! You have a treasure.
Thanks for popping in to see my Rooster.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)