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Michigan State University

Artifacts in Special Collections: Scrapbooks & photo albums

Technically, everything in Special Collections is an artifact. But here are some of the more unusual ones!


Special Collections is the library's department for rare, valuable, and fragile materials.

Materials from this department do not check out, but we welcome you in the Special Collections Reading Room in the Main Library lobby, across from the Circulation Desk. We're open by appointment.

1891 student agricultural scrapbook

Forage by J.S. Moore

Forage is a gorgeous handwritten and embellished scrapbook about the species of grasses and hay suitable for livestock. It was created in 1891 by J.S. Moore as a class project at "A.S.C."

The scrapbook has 56 dried samples of grasses, with stems tied in colored threads. The pages are embellished with calligraphy and drawings of plants and birds.

We have not been able to determine what school J.S. Moore attended. In 1891, MSU's official name was "State Agricultural College," or S.A.C -- not A.S.C. If you choose this artifact for investigation, let us know what you find out!

Michael J. Fox scrapbook

Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future

A young fan created a Michael J. Fox scrapbook in the late 1980s.

Train engines photo album

A train enthusiast created a photo album with photos of train engines in the late 1950s.

Botanical specimens

The Allen Benton Morse Papers contain botanical specimens Morse collected in mid-Michigan in the years 1859-1861, and in Tennessee in 1864 while serving in the 21st Michigan Infantry company in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War.

Matchbook covers

In 1948, Lansing resident Jerry Mahoney compiled this scrapbook of more than 800 matchbook covers he had collected from all over the United States.

Vietnam War Protest Movement scrapbook

1960s scrapbook

In 1971, Steve Bouwkamp and Craig Brown assembled this scrapbook to document the Vietnam War protest movement and anti-war demonstrations in Washington D.C.

Grandmother Perry's scrapbook

"Grandmother Perry" compiled this charming scrapbook of flower, fruit, vegetable illustrations some time before 1912.

Early 1900s travel postcards

Postcard view of Norwich, England, c.1900

An album of 450 picture postcards from around the world, collected by Robert Bonner Echols from 1905 to 1908.

Early 20th century African photos

Photograph album

Photo album from Bloemfontein, South Africa (1910, shown above)

Photo album of Uganda, Tanganyika, Kenya, Iraq, and Nigeria (1916-1926)

Photo album of "Life in Eritrea" (1942)

John Denver scrapbook

John DenverA young fan compiled a scrapbook about singer John Denver some time in the 1970s.

World War II photo album

American serviceman compiled this photo album of his experiences in the Pacific theater of World War II.

BONUS: Student scrapbooks at MSU Archives

Page from student scrapbook showing greeting cards

The MSU Archives & Historical Collections have a great collection of scrapbooks compiled by MSU students over the generations.

The Archives are located in room 101 of Conrad Hall, on the east side of campus at 888 Wilson Road. Check their reading room hours here.