Boston Children's Museum

Boston Children’s Museum Scrapbooks from the American History Collection

Doll house scrapbook
Detail from: Doll house scrapbook
Boston Children’s Museum has been a collecting institution since its founding in 1913 and is one of the few children’s museums in the world that maintains a collection. Nearly 20 percent of the overall collection is dedicated to American history, focusing on objects that portray the evolution of everyday life in America over the past three centuries. Objects in this collection cover the historical period from approximately 1750 to the early 2000s, with the majority of artifacts dating between 1850 and 1950.

This selection of scrapbooks was donated to the museum in the mid-20th century. The books themselves mostly date to the 1880s and contain their own collections of holiday or business cards, advertisements, or designs to be used as backdrops for paper dolls. The scrapbooks reveal a lot about the people who once owned, used, or made them, showing a glimpse of everyday life in the past and what was valued at the time. What stories do you find in their pages?

The Loring Scrapbook was digitized by students at Simmons University School of Library and Information Science as a culminating project for LIS-462-OL: Digital Libraries in Fall 2019. Their work can be viewed at