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Anna Thetard / Her Campus

Journals and Photo Albums: Why Everyone Needs Them

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Towards the very end of winter break, I asked my dad if he had any old t-shirts in the basement that he’d be willing to give to me since oversized t-shirts are the best thing to sleep in. My dad has a hard time parting with things he has memories with, like these t-shirts, so I hit the jackpot. I ended up sticking around in the basement for a little while as memories were brought back to me with each shirt.

On my way back upstairs, I spotted some old boxes I recognized. I knew that there would be hundreds of photos in them and I ended up spending another hour downstairs flipping through all of the photos. They were all from my early childhood; my 7th birthday party, my sister’s dance recital, a family reunion, days at the beach. I loved every moment of looking through these photos.

Two summers ago, I vividly remember sitting around the dinner table one night with my dad, step-mom, sister, cousin, grandparents, and my now late Uncle Scotty, who was my dad’s best friend. My dad pulled out a ton of photo albums from his teenage and early adult years, and we spent hours combing through them. Since it was the 90s, these photos are really all they have to remember that time in their lives, and every page we flipped onto had a new story to tell. Now that Scotty has passed, this will forever be one of my favorite memories with him.

When he passed back in October, this memory coming back into my mind sparked an idea within me. I decided I was going to capture every moment I could and print them all out, just like my dad used to. Hundreds and hundreds of photos later, I have photo albums and journals full of these memories.

A few weeks back, I was showing my mother some of the photos I had taken from that weekend and she said something that really had an impact on me. She said how she was upset that she doesn’t remember much from college and high school, and how she wished she’d done what I’m doing so that she could remember. I’m an incredibly nostalgic person, so forgetting these amazing years of my life is something I never want to happen.

I’ve turned this hobby into a routine. My grandparents used to own a camera store, so they have a plethora of cameras laying around their house, one of which they allowed me to take back to school with me to help document my time here. It’s a simple, small, point-and-shoot camera that anyone can use, so it’s very easy to bring out to parties and let everyone take some photos. I’ll download them onto my computer the next day, send them all out to everyone, then place an order on Shutterfly. Later on, I put all of the photos into these huge albums.

Alongside the photos, I’ve also been keeping a journal that I write in as often as I can. I’ll write about what I did that weekend, where I went, who I was with, how I was feeling. It can sometimes be an emotional process, as I tend to pour out all of my feelings. But that’s the point, so I can remember exactly how I was feeling and what I was doing during this time of life. 

That all being said, I recommend this to everyone and anyone. We all have phones to take photos on, but those digital memories only live within our little phones. Having the real, hard copy of these is what makes it so special. These have been the most amazing few years of my life and I don’t want to forget any of it.

If you’re interested in seeing some of these photos, check out @caroline.momentss on Instagram where I occasionally post a few of my favorites.

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Caroline Townsend

U Mass Amherst '23

Caroline is a junior at UMass Amherst studying Education, specifically Community Education and Social Change. She is from Truro, Cape Cod Massachusetts and a true beach bum. She lives for beach days, homemade ice cream, and her three dogs!