Scrapbooks - Rehousing & Encapsulation

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Book and Paper Group Wiki > Book Conservation Wiki > Scrapbooks > Rehousing & Encapsulation

This is a subpage of the Scrapbooks page in the Book Conservation Wiki. It contains descriptions of rehousing and encapsulation solutions specifically tailored to scrapbooks. For more general solutions, please refer to the Wiki pages on Housings and Encapsulation. For links to other published resources, please consult the Annotated Bibliography for the Scrapbooks page.

Scrapbook opening showing stickers, original pencil artwork, and pasted-in clippings. MARBL Collection, Emory University. Photo taken by Kim Norman.

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Modifying Standard Size Boxes

One of the first and easiest ways to protect fragile historic scrapbooks is to store them in archival quality enclosures, most frequently a commercially produced, metal edged, drop-spine box made of high-quality lignin free, buffered board. These boxes (or any custom-made box of similar quality materials) create a desirable micro-climate, physically protect the scrapbooks from light and dust, and serve to contain any loose bits that could otherwise become separated from the object. However, pre-made boxes of standard sizes often do not fit the scrapbooks snugly, and can lead to dangerous shifting within the box when items are removed from the shelf. It is therefore advisable to modify the interior of the boxes with crumpled archival tissue or custom spacers to better support the scrapbook inside the box.

These instructions give directions for creating simple spacers to outfit the interior of a drop spine metal edge box to snugly house a smaller scrapbook.

Custom Housing Solutions

A custom sized box is the best choice for fitting a scrapbook snugly without requiring excessive shelf space. A style that works well for scrapbooks and can be made without specialized equipment is the corrugated clamshell box (also called a corrugated drop spine box or pizza box). There is an AIC Wiki page with instructions for making a corrugated clamshell box and a similar set of instructions for making a Corrugated Drop Spine Box from the Department of Preservation and Conservation at Syracuse University. There are a variety of other options for creating custom-sized enclosures on the Housings page of the AIC Wiki. Fragile scrapbooks may also benefit from support boards to facilitate handling.

Another option is to have a box made to order by a commercial box-maker using archival materials. Some commercial book binderies provide this service.


Another good option for scrapbooks is encapsulation of each page and rebinding into a post binding structure. This allows a fragile scrapbook to be handled as a bound structure. The BPG Wiki page on Encapsulation has a section on post bindings of this type, and the Scrapbooks Annotated Bibliography lists several publications that describe innovative solutions for creating this structure without a welding machine or if you need to accommodate folded objects.

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