Heritage Scrapbooking

katie twins

Layout by Katie. Credits: Simplicity by Joyce Paul, template by Kasia, CK Script font

Heritage Scrapbooking is a wonderful way to connect with your ancestors and preserve their photos and stories for your own enjoyment, as well as the generations to come. I (Katie) think of my heritage as being where I came from so that includes my parents, my grandparents, and all who came before them. When I create pages about these people, or the time periods in which they lived, I consider that to be “heritage scrapbooking”.

If you have worked with older photos or tried to document stories from past generations, you probably have a great appreciation for any dates or information that was written down. It is a rare treasure! How I wish I knew more about the photos that exist from my Grandparents and Great-Grandparents times. All of my Grandparents passed away years ago and my husband only has one Grandmother left, so we have reached a point where our information sources are very limited. We have to rely on our own parents memories of what their parents had told them. If you have older relatives who can fill in the details for you, be sure to ask them questions and talk to them about the photos from your heritage. Let this also be a good reminder to yourself to date and document photos whenever possible, whether that is through photo albums, scrapbooking, or blogging. We have many journaling options these days! (See my past post “But I’m Not a Writer!” if you need some help in this area).

Just a few generations ago, pictures were a luxury and not commonplace as they are today, so it is not unusual for there to be only a few handfuls of pictures to represent an entire lifetime. That is probably the cause of many family disagreements when it comes time to divvy up the photographs from a loved one’s life. If you have access to your heritage photos now, do yourself and your family a big favor by taking the time (or spending the money) to get them scanned to share with others. You will avoid arguments that might arise during emotional times of going through a deceased loved one’s belongings. Last fall, I decided to ask my Mom if I could sort through her photos for this very reason. My parents are alive and well right now so by scanning their photos now (I used scanmyphotos.com), I’ve been able to share them with my parents and siblings and also ask them about the history behind each photo. I’ve discovered so many wonderful stories this way. I also don’t have to worry about borrowing precious photos from my Mom’s collection to scrapbook them because now I have my very own copies!

No matter how or why you scrapbook your heritage, there are a few important tips and ideas to keep in mind to help you get the best results.

  • Tell the story. I think this is a big part of every type of scrapbook page, but it is especially important when it comes to a heritage page. If you have details to share about that moment in time, you should share them. You may be the only one left who can document why that photo or memory matters. I was able to put together this page about my Grandpa’s World War II experience that has even been included in some history books. Thankfully, my Mom copied the story down so I was able to reproduce it here.

katie grandpa

Layout by Katie. Credits: Template by Ali Edwards (no. 10), Papers by Catherine Designs (Pele Mele Memory Keeper), Christine Honsinger Artful Antiquities frame, Georgia font

  • Respect the photo. This might sound unusual, but I believe in keeping the photo true to it’s era. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t improve it at all using photoshop or lightroom tricks, just don’t overdo it. I’m so grateful to Ali Edwards for teaching me the principle of letting your photo exist as it was meant to be. (I wrote about this in the post “My Parents Were Awesome”) Resist the urge to crop out important background details because they are part of the story as well. This layout by Karen is a wonderful example of respecting the time and details of the photograph.

Layout by Karen. Credits: Leora Sanford Promise of Tomorrow papers, In Good Company elements, Paper Cuts; Font is Times New Roman

It is also perfectly fine to use photographs that are blurry or not “perfect”. This is the technology they had and the picture tells a story all it’s own.

Layout by Melissa. Credits here.

  • Neutrals and muted tones work especially well with older photographs. Faded photos, sepia tones and black & white photographs lend themselves to a more vintage type of look and are often overpowered by bold colors. A modern color palette of hot orange and magenta would simply look out of place on a layout about the early 1900s. It’s a matter of being true to the time period of the memory.

Layout by Karen. Credits: Randi Oh Me, Myself and I kit; Fontologie Printing Primer font

  • Color can be used where appropriate and sometimes it is quite striking with black & white or sepia photos. On this layout, I couldn’t imagine using only neutrals since the page is all about my Grandma’s signature red lipstick.

katie red

layout by Katie. Credits: Darcy Baldwin template, Flower and papers from Kristin Cronin-Barrow (family ties), Papers by Jen Wilson, CK Becky font.
  • Comparisons are a natural for heritage pages. The beauty of using old photographs is the ability to pair them with modern counterparts. Don’t be afraid to use the “Then and Now” approach to storytelling. It’s very powerful!

Layout by Melissa. Credits here.

  • Supplement with modern material if needed. If you don’t have photographs of something in the past, find a way around the problem. Use drawings, stock photos, or even modern photographs. Team member Melissa S. wanted to scrapbook about her Grandmother’s childhood home but she didn’t have any pictures from the time of her Grandma’s youth. So she snapped photos of the modern day home and used them for this layout.

Layout by Melissa. Credits here.

I thought it would be fun to end with some enabling to get you in the scrapbooking mood. I found a lot of wonderful supplies for heritage scrapbooking in the digi shops. I love them all! (images are linked)

Vintage Treasures by Julie Bullock

Impressions of Honour

Vintage Ephemera by Bisontine and Joyce

Needful Things - Book 5 by sausan

Bella's Attic

Attic Antiquities Page Kit


Heritage and Traditions: Frames and Papers


Timeless Fall by Hazel Olive

Artful Antiquities Frames

How’d They Do That? No. 21: Painting Vintage Photos

Are you feeling inspired to scrap the past? I know I am! Have fun scrapping your heritage!