What a resource a high school, college, university or post-graduate yearbook can be for the family researcher. True, most people don’t like their yearbook portraits, but for the family historian those photos and the information about the person can be priceless.
You first need to check with all relatives, long-time family friends to see if they have any yearbooks from any ancestor. Keep in mind it can be a yearbook from an organization – fraternal, civic, professional, etc., not just a school. Besides checking with relatives and friends, do contact the local history where your ancestor lived. Many keep donated yearbooks in their collections. Also many public libraries in a hometown will have copies of local yearbooks.
If one is located, ask to borrow it from the relative so as many pages in the yearbook you are interested in can be scanned. If possible scan all the pages of the book. However, if a museum or library has the you will need to be specific in what you need scanned and pay for such copies. Visiting the actual local museum or library, you might be given permission to photo copy the pages or the whole yearbook.
With the Internet there are many yearbooks from a variety of locations and types (college, high school, organizations) now available online – all the pages scanned. Many of the yearbooks also have images of the school itself along with the faculty. If you had an ancestor who taught at a school, this would be a great resource. One online site ‘Internet Archive‘ has a wide range of yearbooks, all fully in digital form. You will find a selection of formats to view a yearbook and that can be saved to your computer. All is free to use.
Do start with family, somewhere there is your ancestor’s yearbook waiting for you.
PHOTOS: 1905 -seniors of Southwestern Univ. in Texas.
Columbia University School of Physicians and Surgeons for 1959.
W. L. Arlington High School in Virginia – class of 1927.