A Genealogy Education is in School Yearbooks

As school begins, so do the memories. The priceless records of family members’ school days are found in Yearbooks.
Our RecordClick genealogist details how a genealogy researcher can use and find these precious lessons.

Want a genealogy education as summer is starting to wind down and school is about to begin?

For this RecordClick genealogy researcher, school means the next class of a great genealogy tool –Yearbooks. This ancestry researcher is always surprised at the variety of Yearbooks that have been digitized. Yet, many are not easy to find.

A Yearbook’s details—the records of instructors, professors, students and student life–can be an added jewel in a family’s genealogy. They show student creativity as well as written memories of youth, making them a valuable research tool in getting the added layers in the genealogy search

Even as Yale began publishing Yearbooks in the early 1800s and other schools followed suit, technology limited the content. As printing presses improved – and with the advent of the linotype in the 1880s – annual class memory books became cheaper and easier to produce.  The number of institutions with Yearbooks increased in the late 1800s.

Although some yearbooks have serious names such as “Carver” for George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute, the genealogy researcher will more often find that Yearbooks have humorous names. The early Johns Hopkins University Yearbook was named “The Hullabaloo” in the late 1890s, years before the 1960s television show. The University of Nebraska Yearbook was “The Sombrero” and the State Normal and Industrial School in Ellendale, North Dakota was “The Snitcher”.

Most Yearbooks include pictures and lists. The genealogist will often find:

  • Students and their area of interest.
  • Names of professors and where they were educated.
  • Sports Teams
  • Clubs
  • Notable campus buildings16 RCB YBUnivNeBldg
  • Pictures of classrooms, labs, dorm rooms

These lists provide the genealogist with insight into the type of student an ancestor was and how classmates viewed her or him.

Even when a student did not graduate, the student is often listed and/or pictured as long as he or she attended the school. Often, Yearbook content is on the lighter side.  However, there are always exceptions. During World War I, “The Snitcher” listed students who were in the service.16 RCB YB EllenND

The list of online annuals is long and most institutions–from Ivy League powerhouses like Harvard and Yale to small community colleges and high schools—have them. That’s the easy note for the genealogy researcher. Where and how the genealogy researcher can find Yearbooks for a school is a different matter.

A number of institutions have their Yearbooks digitized. If this is the case, it may be one of the better sources for the genealogist. There are some major online websites, like InternetArchives, as Classmates.com or E-Yearbook.com, that have some Yearbooks. However, often some volumes are missing.

A nice aspect about Yearbooks for a genealogy researcher is that some schools – especially the small rural ones – may have included identified photographs of younger classes in the volume. A genealogist should also remember that in many places, a high school education did not become a standard until after 1900. So, many high schools did not start publishing Yearbooks until after 1900.

When you hire a genealogist from RecordClick, you get an experienced genealogy researcher who will find the schools where your ancestors were educated. You, too, will get a first class education–in your family history.