Tips from the Pros: Seek Old Yearbooks, by Jana Sloan Broglin, CG

Yearbook, Parma High School, 1937We all like to look at our old high school and college yearbooks and remember all those goofy haircuts, clothes, and styles of glasses. But have you considered other types of school memorabilia for your ancestors? As genealogists, we tend to think of 100 years ago, or more, when doing research, but we also need to look at items from our parents and grandparents.

When looking at school yearbooks, look not only at the school picture, but any others, such as Future Farmers of America (FFA), the basketball team, art club, etc. I located my father, Jack Sloan, in a 1943 yearbook in Swanton, Ohio. In his senior year, Dad was shown as a member of the yearbook staff. It was interesting to note in later life, Dad was talented in writing, having done a book regarding his experiences in World War II.

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Image: Parma High School, Cleveland, Ohio, 1937, Leader’s Club and Booster Club (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

9 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Seek Old Yearbooks, by Jana Sloan Broglin, CG

  1. While on a genealogical trip, I went to a library in a small town where my Grandmother had lived for a few years. In talking to the librarian, I was disappointed to hear they didn’t have collections that would be beneficial in doing research. On second thought, he said, he did have some old yearbooks in the back…
    Not only did he have books for the years my Grandmother was in school there, but she had written comments and signed these yearbooks! How strange to see my Grandmother’s handwriting after all these years, and what a treasure to find!

  2. Don’t forget to look in the Class Will. You might find the names of brothers and sisters and friends and family in them. I’m the oldest child in my family and I left things to each of my brothers and sisters in my class will. I graduated in 1979 so who knows, my decendants may go looking for my yearbook and find me and my brothers and sisters in my yearbook.

  3. Also interesting in those yearbooks is who they may have gone to school with. In mine, will be Hillary Rodham Clinton and actress Carrie Snodgress, in my sister-in-law’s is Harrison Ford and the Hager Twins from the TV show HeeHaw, and my brother’s is actress Karen Black (movie:Nashville,and others)although you’ll find her under the last name of Ziegler (I think that how she spelled it). Guess my high school produced alot of famous (semi-famous) people…but so did a lot of other school’s!

  4. My husband’s uncle was our daughter’s godfather. A few years ago I discovered two yearbooks at a bookstore in Chapel Hill, NC for 1938 and 1939, both years he was a student at UNC. I was amazed to see how involved he had been in campus life, both academically and socially. He is now deceased, but those yearbooks are treasures that preserve something about Uncle Richard’s early life. He was a pilot during WWII, and became a very successful businessman, who took his commitment to his church, family, and community very seriously. His contributions in every way were meaningful. I was impressed also by the quality of the black and white photography in those almost 70-year-old yearbooks, the young faces still pristine as the photographer saw them.

  5. Recently I mailed Ancestry about twenty year books from my husband’s aunt’s school in Colorado where she taught for many years. Eventually they will put them on their website for any interested people.

  6. When I discovered my mother’s Armstrong birth family, I also learned that she had had two younger brothers whom she never knew. Unfortunately, I have no photos of Mother’s birth family, but I did learn the birth dates of her brothers, 1910 and 1911. I also found the name of the older boy on the 1927 grad list for Phoenix Union High School. About a month ago, I wrote the research department of the Phoenix Public Library to request the brothers’ senior class photos from the 1927 and 1928 yearbooks. When I the photos arrived, I was stunned at the resemblance of the older boy to my mother–and to my own brother at that age.

  7. I found interesting information in my father’s high school and college year books. We had always understood from both my dad and my mother that he was mainly a wrestler in both schools. Apparently, he was into various sports, both in high school and college. However, the most interesting thing was to discover his years of playing soccer. Although he had attended all of my daughter’s four years of high school ball games, his interest and years of playing soccer were never mentioned!

  8. Last year I went to the University at Warrenburg, Missouri. My mother was graduated from there in 1913 with a Bachelor of Pedagogy degree (Teachers Certificate). She was nineteen years old. I was able to get a yearbook for 1913 with both her and my aunt’s pictures with clever saying about each one.

  9. I am looking for a quality vendor that would digitally preserve our yearbooks onto a DVD. Any suggestions?

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