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The Unidentified Scrapbook: Searching the Pages for a Nameless Identity

Introduction: A Question of Identity

Scrapbook of Unidentified Bryn Mawr College Student, Inside Cover

This photo, taken of the class of 1922, in the spring of their freshman year, adorns the inside cover of this scrapbook.  A similar photo, taken in the spring of their senior year, is featured on the last page.  

Exhibition created by Katie McCormick, Bryn Mawr College class of 2013

 

The question of authorship is an immediate puzzle for this document.  This scrapbook has no name associated with it.  Though all of the photos included are meticulously captioned, none refers a subject as “I.”  Despite this lack of self-reference, there are many clues, in the form of photos and ephemera, that provide insights into the possible identity of this “unidentified student.”  The first and last pages of the scrapbook serve as symbolic bookends to the author’s Bryn Mawr experience.  The first page features a photograph of the class of 1922, taken in their freshman year.  The last page features a photograph, similarly staged on the steps of Taylor hall, of the same class, taken during their senior year.  Taken together, these photos serve as evidence that the scrapbook’s creator was a member of the class of 1922.  Contributing to this sense of ‘visual biography’ are numerous photos of the field hockey teams and captains, playbills and photographs of theatre productions that span the student’s four years at the college.  Additionally, images of Bryn Mawr’s campus are interspersed throughout the document.  These images along with images and materials documenting May Day festivities, locate this document within Bryn Mawr’s physical space, and contribute to our sense of what it would have been like to be a resident student in the early 1920s.