How to preserve or copy a scrapbook? Scan entire pages and print a photo book

Scrapbooks are good for preserving many things, especially when the creator has a lot of memorabilia to preserve. A scrapbook allows the creator to save together photos, greetings cards, letters and other documents.

But scrapbooks aren’t easy to duplicate. All of that memorabilia is probably one of a kind so even when the creator is able to duplicate the photos, it’s tricky to copy the documents.

That’s when scanning a scrapbook — whole page by whole page — and printing a version from the digital images not only makes it easy to share, it creates a valuable back-up, too.

This also is a useful approach to save scrapbooks and albums that are falling apart. Scanning the book avoids the tedious process of disassembling everything — and risking damage to the  photos and memorabilia — only to reassemble again.

I recently completed a project for my mother who recreated a scrapbook album of her mother made after the death of my uncle (my mother’s brother). She wanted copies of the album to share with her living brother and the widow of the deceased brother.

I used a Flip-Pal portable scanner to scan the 12-by-12-inch pages. Flip-Pal comes with software which stitches together scans of portions of a larger image.

Here’s how an original scrapbook page looked:

byron photos

Each page required 12 scans with the Flip-Pal. For best quality results, I stitched together four scans at a time, then scanned the resulting parts together for a whole page. Here’s one of the partial scans of the page (all scans at 300 dpi):

byron partial

And here’s how the final, stitched image:

byron scanned page

I used these final images with Creative Memories Storybook Creator software to create a digital photo album. Each page was a single “photo” without embellishment since the image itself was a picture of an embellished scrapbook page. The digital version came together fairly quickly compared to the scanning and stitching. Naturally, there is no limit now to how many copies of the digital version can be created.

This is a particularly valuable album. The uncle for whom my grandmother created the original album died 41 years ago in the Vietnam War. In that page above, that’s my mom in the upper left corner, sitting on the couch with two of her three brothers; the one in the center died a couple of years ago and the boy on the end of the couch was the one who ultimately perished in the war.

byron letter

Among the memorabilia preserved in the album are the last letters and postcards my uncle sent to my grandparents while serving in Vietnam and the carefully typewritten letters from the U.S. Army documenting his missing-in-action status and later, his killed-in-action status.

“On 2 April 1972, at approximately 5:45 in the afternoon, while responding to an urgent call for assistance, your son’s aircraft was shot down by intense enemy fire. He and the other three crew members have been listed as missing in action. … Although all four crewmen carried survival radios, no transmissions have been received from them. I wish I could offer you more hope, but I am afraid it does not look very good, for determining Byron’s whereabouts.”

That last clause “for determining Byron’s whereabouts” was clearly added after the original message was composed as, perhaps, the commanding officer was straddling the delicate line between offering my grandparents hope and setting appropriate expectations.

All of these items are obviously one-of-kind documents of great value to my mother, her living brother and my uncle’s widow.

I’m so glad I could play a part in curating these important memories.

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4 comments on “How to preserve or copy a scrapbook? Scan entire pages and print a photo book

  1. […] I know this story because my grandmother preserved the evidence in an album. My mother recently recompiled the photos and memorabilia in a scrapbook and asked me to make a copy of it. For details and more photos about that part of the project, check out my Clickago Storywerks blog here. […]

  2. Monica Lee says:

    Reblogged this on Clickago Storywerks and commented:

    Have a treasured scrapbook that’s falling apart? Or you want to share? Since I wrote about scanning a scrapbook and printing as a photo book two years ago, this post has been the most popular one since I began this blog. Enjoy!

  3. Jan Pane says:

    Hi. I want to create one scrapbook and then have 2 copies made so that each of my 3 children have a copy. How should I do this? Paste pics on 12×12 sheets then copy!?

    I am so hoping you can help!

    Thanks for your kind attention

    • Monica Lee says:

      The method you describe would work, but I think you’d get a sleeker, more polished result by scanning the whole, finished scrapbook pages, then creating a digital album with the scanned images with a vendor like Shutterfly or similar. In the end, you’d have one scrapbook for one child and two photo books for the other two children.

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