Yes, that would be a great find, locating a school yearbook photo or even a write-up about an ancestor from their school days. Not all yearbooks have photos — that additional aspect mainly came during the early 20th century. However, yearbooks and similar school memory books, journals, class rosters or alumni lists have been available since the mid-1800s.
Your ancestor may have had such a yearbook or class book and over the years it has disappeared. Since there was originally more than one copy, there are now Internet sites with digital images of those yearbooks. At Old-Yearbooks.com a collection of school memorabilia of various sorts has been placed online.
On the homepage is a link to all the states in the United States. New images are being added to the site on a continual basis. Some of the type of information found includes class rosters. These would be a listing of graduates for a certain year from a certain school. Such listings can come from local newspapers who printed the names of graduates.
Besides a list of graduates additional information can appear in news articles such as the valedictorian, who made commencement speeches and where the graduation took place. Not just grade schools, or high schools would have a roster, so would colleges and universities, especially listed with their local newspaper. Some of the earliest rosters of students are in the early 1880s. The greater assortment is in the early 20th century (1900 to 1920).
Besides rosters are graduation programs. For example from Waterford High School in Wisconsin is scanned the five pages of the printed program of the class graduation which was held June 7, 1917. There are Alumni books for the East Lampeter Township High School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It covers those who attended from 1909 to 1934. These are great because most of the time they have the graduate’s name, where they live as of a certain time period, and for females their married name.
The best is to see the actual pages of a student’s yearbook, especially those with photos. Many times there were no individual photos, but rather group photos, such as an entire class. This was mostly possible for smaller classes, say less than fifty students. Other group photos would be for clubs, organizations or sports that a student participated in. Remember the faculty will also be included in the yearbooks, so if ancestor was a teacher at a certain school, there most likely will be an image along with what courses they taught.
There is no separate search engine to look using a surname or a school’s name. The main method is by states. Click on a state names such as Tennessee and an alphabetical listing of locations in Tennessee with booklets, yearbooks, photos or other memorabilia will appear.
Here also you can use the search box looking first at a state, then the city and if then any yearbooks are available from the schools listed. With Ancestry.com you can search also by a name. Keep in mind in any search; if there is not a book for the year your ancestor graduated, they may be listed in one or two previous years as a junior or sophomore. It is worth looking into this source of information on a relative.< Return To Blog I am looking for a yearbook for Farmington High School in Framklin County Maine for 1918. Thank you