Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies (SLAIS). Men and women 150 years ago grappled with information overload by making scrapbooks-the ancestors of Google and blogging. From Abraham Lincoln to Susan B. Anthony, African American janitors to farmwomen, abolitionists to Confederates, people cut out and pasted down their reading. Writing with Scissors opens a new window into the feelings and thoughts of ordinary and extraordinary Americans. Like us, nineteenth-century readers spoke back to the media, and treasured what mattered to them. Ellen Gruber Garvey reveals a previously unexplored layer of American popular culture, where the proliferating cheap press touched the lives of activists and mourning parents, and all who yearned for a place in history. Scrapbook makers documented their feelings about momentous public events such as living through the Civil War, mediated through the newspapers. African Americans and women’s rights activists collected, concentrated, and critiqued accounts from a press that they did not control to create “unwritten histories” in books they wrote with scissors. Whether scrapbook makers pasted their clippings into blank books, sermon collections, or the pre-gummed scrapbook that Mark Twain invented, they claimed ownership of their reading. They created their own democratic archives.


Ellen Gruber Garvey, is Professor in the English Department of New Jersey City University, where she also teaches Women’s and Gender Studies. Her teaching interests include 19th century American literature, print culture, popular literature, lesbian and gay literature, and children’s literature.

Select Articles Available at UBC

Ellis, Jacqueline; Garvey, Ellen Gruber. (2012). Teaching Under Attack [Special Issue]. Transformations: The Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy. 23(1). pp. 11- 14. [Link]

Garvey, Ellen Gruber. (2010). Nineteenth-Century Abolitionists and the Databases They Created. Legacy. 27(2). pp. 357-366. [Link]

Garvey, Ellen Gruber. (2009). Less Work for “Mother”: Rural Readers, Farm Papers, and the Makeover of “The Revolt of ‘Mother’”. Legacy. 26(1). pp. 119-135. [Link]

UBC Library Research Guides

Archival Material

Historical Photographs

Library, Archival, and Information Science

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Library





Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia

Spam prevention powered by Akismet