By Barbara Levine and Stephanie Snyder
“Curator and photo album collector Levine feels that whenever she opens an album she is "activating a story"—the annals of a family, the tale of middle-class striving, the story of Americans developing visual literacy and gaining fluency with photography's new idiom. Levine and fellow curator Snyder have produced far more than a catalogue to a San Francisco exhibition opening in April or a coffee-table book—they have made a beautiful, quirky history of photo albums.”
— Publishers Weekly
Today, the photo album is something we practically take for granted, and "scrapbooking" is a billion dollar industry with its own television network. It was not always so. Before the camera, ordinary families had little more than the family Bible, a portrait of grandpa, and a drawer full of documents. Then Eastman Kodak introduced the Brownie, giving Americans the means to document and record their daily lives. Hundreds of thousands of these cameras were produced, and as a result small collections of photographs were assembled and preserved in an astonishing assortment of albums, with photographs as the raw material for collages, constructions, and text experiments.
Snapshot Chronicles by Barbara Levine and Stephanie Snyder is a visual exploration of the creative outpouring made possible by the camera. Friends, family, travel, domestic life, special occasions, the workplace, farm and city life—these were all intermingled in early albums in surprising and dynamic forms. Men, women, and even children became the creators of their own visual biographies, and documenters of previously unprecedented aspects of American life.