Note: While the column refers specifically to items in their collection, it's a good reminder that all genealogists should be aware of school yearbooks and alumni directories!
From GENEALOGY GEMS: NEWS FROM THE FORT WAYNE LIBRARY
No. 64, June 30, 2009
SCHOOL YEARBOOKS AND ALUMNI DIRECTORIES
by Dawne Slater-Putt, CG
October 28, 1897, freshman Charles Krinn had a new haircut, according to the Marion High School “Juggernaut” (977.202 M33j 1897). Yearbooks can be a rich source of information for adding color to the names, dates and places on a pedigree chart.
For each class, the “Juggernaut” included a group photograph, names, history, officers, colors, motto and yell. The annual detailed clubs, football teams and excursions; listed the alma maters and degrees of teachers; and included poetry, essays and jokes. A calendar featured a fact about an individual student for each day. Many of these appeared to be tongue-in-cheek, including the note about Charles Krinn’s haircut. The Alumni Record listed each graduate in the school’s history and his or her status in 1897: occupation, residence and women’s married names. Some were noted as deceased.
The Genealogy Center collection includes yearbook titles from nearly 1500 schools and more than 500 colleges, as well as more than 200 alumni directories that each supply brief biographical details on the graduates of a single institution. The Center actively seeks yearbooks and new titles continue to be cataloged. To determine whether the collection includes a specific yearbook, researchers should search the online catalog for the subject “school yearbooks” or “college yearbooks” and the desired city or state. Also, a name index for the yearbooks of three of the larger high schools in Allen County, Indiana is available at:
Information typically found in yearbooks includes names and photographs of students, teachers, clubs and athletic teams. Other information varies by time period and individual school. Earlier books may include class colors, yells, mottos, verses, essays, and sections on alumni. Recent books typically include candid photographs, individual student pictures and sometimes an index. Annuals of all time periods may have advertisements for local businesses.
Other sources for yearbooks include city, county and state libraries where the school is located and the collections of local and state genealogical and historical societies. In some cases, digital images of yearbooks may be available online. The U.S. School Yearbooks database at Ancestry.com contains an estimated 6,151,452 personal names. This collection includes digitized annuals from schools, colleges and universities. It is searchable by name, with limiters of state, city, school name and yearbook year. Researchers also may browse the database by state, city, school and year.
Virtually all yearbooks found in library collections or online will be second-hand, rather than pristine copies. This is a boon for genealogists since researchers may find the signature of a relative who was a classmate of the original yearbook owner. A high school annual also may be the only inspiration for a mental picture of
Grandma as a teenager, chanting her class yell: “Hobble, Zick, Rah! Boom-a-lack, Bah! ’99, right in line, Zig-sag, Ah!”
This electronic newsletter is published by the Allen County Public Library's Genealogy Center. We welcome the wide distribution of this newsletter and encourage readers to forward it to their friends and societies. All precautions have been made to avoid errors. However, the publisher does not assume any liability to any party for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions, no matter the cause.
To subscribe to “Genealogy Gems,” simply use your browser to go to the website: www.GenealogyCenter.Info. Scroll down toward the bottom of the first screen where it says, "Enter Your Email Address to Subscribe to "Genealogy Gems." Enter your email address in the yellow box and click on "Subscribe." You will be notified with a confirmation email.
Steve Myers & Curt Witcher, co-editors