Cut and Paste: A Transdisciplinary Approach to the Analysis of Lady Hannah Anne Maxwell’s 19th Century Scrapbook



Williams, Anne Christine

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Traditionally, historians set out to establish a better understanding of the past. Investigations into the people, places and things that they determine to be significant or valuable drive our understanding of history. When considering the wealth of primary sources historians have to consider, female perspectives, products, and material culture objects remain largely absent from the canon of texts that form our historical acumen. It is this structure that determines what texts—visual, visceral or written—are considered legitimate sources. Our contemporary historiography would be enriched by the incorporation of a wider range of texts and a more nuanced consideration of those that document a narrative in a non-traditional format. Lady Maxwell’s Scrap Book, one of five dating from approximately 1829 to 1841, captures over a decade of collected thoughts, observations, and witticisms which encapsulate the experiences of a Glaswegian woman at a time of great social, political, and economic change. This scrapbook will serve as the primary case study in this thesis. The five scrapbooks—currently housed at Pollok House—are invaluable as objects of study. The carefully arranged newspaper and magazine articles, images, and decorative elements that together comprise Lady Maxwell’s materials paint a picture of an active consumer who employed her craft as an illustration of her desires, perceptions, and critiques of the world around her. Moreover, the scrapbooks demonstrate an awareness rarely heard from the female perspective of social, political and cultural issues in the first half of the nineteenth-century. Small, seemingly insignificant animal elements, borders, and other trimmings reflect the popularity and significance of “scissoring” or scrapbooking as not only a leisurely pursuit in the period, but as an expression of self. With her creations, Lady Maxwell makes bold statements about legitimate voices in print media, asserting her own agency and making public her own voice. In calling for a transdisciplinary approach to constructing a more inclusive gendered history, I hope to open scrapbooks to a broader academic audience and highlight their potential as resources in the examination of the lives of those who were perhaps deemed less notable and shed light on those who were remarkable in nontraditional ways.


This thesis has been embargoed for 5 years and will not be available until April 2021.


Scrapbook, Female authorship, Nontraditional texts, Pollok House, Textuality, Scotland