Bertha and Ruth Edgerton were born to Alfred and Jane Edgerton of Cedar Creek, Lake County, Indiana. Bertha, born around the year 1867, was about ten years the senior of her younger sister, Ruth, who was born about 1877. The Edgerton sisters had an additional three brothers and three sisters: Oscar, Nora, George, Millie, Homer, and Alma.
The elder sister Bertha was active in Sunday school. In the year 1884, at the age of seventeen, Bertha participated in the Lake County Sunday School Union's nineteenth anniversary celebration. At the event she was one of three young women to give a recitation to the audience; her selection was "Two Banners."
The younger of the Edgerton sisters, Ruth, married Jarvis Dorais, a Canadian of French background, and moved to Muskegon, Michigan, sometime prior to 1910. In Michigan, Ruth Edgerton Dorais started a family which included daughter Flora Lois Dorais, who later took the name Lois Dorais Potter following her marriage. Lois Dorais Potter's daughter, Lois Potter, donated these scrapbooks to the University of Delaware Library in 2008.
Ball, T.H. The Sunday Schools of Lake: an account of the commencement and growth of the Sunday Schools of Lake County, Indiana, from about 1840 to 1890.Crown Point, Indiana: Lake County S. S. Union, 1891. Available online at http://www.usgwarchives.org/special/churches/in/lake/sundayschools.htm (accessed August 11, 2008).
Additional information derived from conversations with Lois Potter and from the United States Census for the years 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920.
Two of the three scrapbooks in this small collection are identified as having been made by Bertha Edgerton of Creston, Lake County, Indiana. The Bertha and Ruth Edgerton scrapbooks, made during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, contain collectible scraps and images from seed packets and catalogs, scrap sets, catalog illustrations and advertisements, and Sunday school cards. The sources for the scraps in these classically constructed scrapbooks are telling of both the period in which they were made as well as of the life of the young woman who made them.
Two of the scrapbooks included in the collection are clearly identified as having been made by Bertha Edgerton of Creston, Lake County, Indiana. The first of these two books, with a cover reading "Scrap Album," contains the inscription "Presented to Ruth Edgerton, by her sister, Bertha Edgerton. Creston, Indiana, May 18th." The second scrapbook, with a cover reading "Scraps," also contains an inscription which identifies "Bertha Edgerton, Creston, Lake Co., Indiana" as the creator of the book. A third scrapbook in the collection contains no identifying information about the maker, but given the similarities in style and content, as well as shared provenance, it is likely that this book was also made by the hands of Bertha Edgerton.
Most of the items pasted in the books are vibrantly colored images and chromolithographic scraps representing three broad image categories. By far the most numerous are scraps depicting flowers, vegetables, and other natural elements. Scraps of fashionably-dressed women and small children are also very common in the three volumes. The clippings of women illustrate Victorian fashion, including tightly bound corsets and vibrant hats. A number of the clippings of women and children, especially those in the gift album presented to Ruth Edgerton, also appear to illustrate individuals in historical garments. Finally, many of the clippings found in the books include biblical verses and imagery.
Many of the images found in the books were clipped from catalog illustrations and advertisements, while other scraps hail from seed catalogs and seed packets. Indeed, a seed catalog and a seed packet are still laid into one of the scrapbooks. Several other items were acquired from period scrap sets. These scraps are generally on thicker paper and have some sort of embossed detailing.