Scrapbook; 1808-1912; 2277


Port Macquarie Museum



About this object

This scrapbook contains numerous articles, pictures, jokes, poetry and riddles that have been carefully cut from newspapers, and creatively arranged and pasted onto coloured papers to form a book of over 200 pages bound together with string. It is associated with five women whose names are handwritten on pages within the scrapbook; namely, Emily Victoria Cummins [Late 1700s-1857]; Emily Ann Palmer (née Cummins) [1829-1909]; Adelaide Georgina Cummins [1835-1913]; Emily Palmer [1856-1904]; and Mabel Spence [1877-1912]. The Cummins family lived at Mount Kembla/Wollongong on their arrival to Australia before their descendants moved to Port Macquarie and the Thrumster area from the mid-1800s.

Most of the newspaper cuttings are of a mature subject matter and/or with deep meanings suggesting that they were selected by adults rather than children and that the adults were well educated and probably members of middle or upper class society. The precise cutting and the arrangement of the items on the pages, also suggests that the book was compiled by teenagers or adults. Many of the pictures show the latest fashions in ladies clothing and hair styles and frequently there are sayings and quotations relating to marriage and to the behaviour and expectations of young ladies and young men, as well as articles containing descriptions of social and historical events both in Australia and overseas.

The 1800s was a period when people began to amass wealth and material goods, and when they were eager to demonstrate their interest in culture, or the natural sciences, or literature, or the arts, by displaying anything from pressed flowers to poems, or from shells to insects. The most popular form of collecting was the creation of scrapbooks. At a time before the introduction of public education, scrapbooks often contained a haphazard arrangement of literary and pictorial cuttings, and much pleasure was derived from examining the books and discussing past activities and events. In addition, scrapbook makers often saw their interests and beliefs reflected in newspaper pictures and quotations, and they saved those that spoke to them, so they would not be lost forever when the newspapers were disposed of. Later in the 1800s when weekly and monthly periodicals began to be produced, many adults ceased collecting newspaper clippings. At the same time die-cuts and coloured and embossed pictures that appealed to children, were being printed, and while adults continued to see the value of scrapbook-making, they were now compiled more as an educational tool for their children, or by children themselves who were learning to organise and classify information and develop their creative skills.

A scrapbook of this type appears to be quite rare. Its contents have not been placed randomly or haphazardly; instead they have been neatly and imaginatively arranged and the subject matter is well-organised indicating that the ‘scraps’ were collected over many years. Most of the ‘scraps’ are from newspapers and these cover a wide variety of subjects in a variety of formats. Their content confirms that they were taken from newspapers printed between the early 1800s through until the early 1900s, and reflects the various contributor’s access to such newspapers.

This scrapbook is also unique. Its contributions appear to have been collected and made entirely by women, and it has been sufficiently valued by each of its contributors to pass from one generation or owner to the next. In so doing they have created an object that provides a fascinating insight into the pastimes, dreams, aspirations, and cultural and literary interests of young women who lived during the years between the late 1700s and early 1900s, three of whom resided in Port Macquarie from the mid 1800s until the early 1900s.

Margaret Blight
3 April 2017

Date Made


Place Made

Port Macquarie

Place Made

Mount Kembla

Place Notes

Wesley Park

Place Made


Medium and Materials

Paper, ink

Inscription and Marks

Handwritten on blue cardboard cover '1808/Mabel Spence/1890/Emily Palmer/Thrumster'.
Handwritten on white fancy-cut ‘end-papers’ under the buckram cover 'Emily Victoria Cummins/Mount Kembla 1847/Adelaide Georgina Cummins/1847/Emily Victoria Cummins/Wollongong 1847'.
Handwritten on the 21st page 'Made 1808'.


300mm L, 220mm W, 40mm Deep

Credit Line

Donor: M Barry

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

This object is from


Include tags such as place names, people, dates, events and colours. Use commas to separate multiple tags. e.g. Pablo Picasso, Madrid, red, 1930s.


eHive copyright disclaimer

It is the responsibility of the eHive Account Holder to gain copyright clearance for any images or content published on eHive. If you are concerned about the copyright status for any content in eHive or would like more information on using or ordering copies of content, please contact the Account Holder of that content. For further information see our Copyright Claims page.