Autograph Albums and the Commercialization of Memory in the United States

  • Jennifer M. Black
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies book series (PMMS)


This chapter examines the creation and use of autograph albums as tools for memory-making and identity performance in the nineteenth-century United States. It problematizes the notion of separate spheres, especially in the supposed separation of personal versus commercial, that persists in historical examinations of the nineteenth century. As objects that circulated in the culture of sentimental exchange and memorialization, autograph albums provided a semi-private venue for emotional expression and displays of virtue. A large commercial industry evolved to support album-making, and autograph albums became critical to middle-class displays of character. This chapter argues that such displays depended upon consuming commercial goods; albums can thus help reconstruct both the material and commercial dimensions of memory-making and identity performance.


Albums Sentiment Middle-class Advertising Commercial trade Material culture 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer M. Black
    • 1
  1. 1.Misericordia UniversityDallasUSA

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