Tips from the Pros: School Records

from George G. Morgan

Remember how your parents had to provide information about you, such as date and place of birth, as part of registering you for school? Many schools maintain their records indefinitely, usually in some records retention facility. Registration, grades, yearbooks, and all sorts of other information may still exist. If you can determine the location of the school that your ancestor or relative attended, and the county it is/was in, chances are that you may be able to obtain copies of school records. Also, don’t overlook colleges and universities that your ancestor attended. Registrars’ offices can be contacted for academic records, and alumni associations may have subsequent addresses. Yearbooks are usually a permanent part of the institution’s library so be sure to check them for details about your ancestors’ extracurricular school activities. Be prepared, however, to provide proof of your relationship in order to gain access to or copies of some of the academic records.

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14 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: School Records

  1. Wondering how to go about locating one of these Records Retention Centers for locating records of my Father’s school records? Thank You! Your article was giving people an awareness to another way of searching for their ancestors, Thank You George.

  2. I want to give away a 1932 and a 1934 Coloradan Year Book to some genealogy society. The Boulder, Co. Genealogy Society never answered my offer to give the books to them. Any takers?
    They are a gold mine of names and photos.

  3. One town in Texas where I did research had school records back to the 1930s in the basement of the courthouse. Anyone was welcome to go through them to find their ancestors. I have found courthouses often have unexpected records. This particular courthouse also had old marriage certificates that had never been picked up by the bride and groom. If your relative was there you were welcome to just take the certificate.

  4. The Franklin County Historical Society, Hampton, Iowa, has many school records from the rural schools. Name teachers, and their pay from the treasures report, students names, age, grades in the various subjects, their deportment, days missed “sick” or “work at home”, “death in family.” Visitors were also listed., and programs put on. Since reading books were brought out by the County Superintendent to the various schools by request of student, can see the books your grandparents were interested in. Teachers pay. What a look into their lives.These rural books were in the hands of farmers who served as Pres, Vice Pres, Sec. and Treas. of the country school board and over the years have been turned over to the Museum by their descendents. The books for my local school built in l870’s on land donated by my great grandfather was closed in 1840’s so it covers that period of time. Of course the records are far from complete and some families just threw them away. YOUR LOCAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY IS WORTH A TRY FOR RURAL SCHOOL RECORDS FOR LATE 1800’S AND EARLY 1900’S.

  5. Your article is good. But when a parent enters the wrong info, you have to research history of person to see if they match. I know because, my 1st husbands parents listed his birthdate wrong in order to get government help, because the father was blind. It takes a lot of research and I am thankful for what I find on census records, birth records and military. School records are one more way of confirming what info you have or to get a start to finding who your ancestors are.

  6. This was the key to finding my ancestors! While checking for other information at the small, county historical museum, an employee suggested I check school records that were on file at the museum. Eureka! From that bit of information I had the link that opened the trail to finding my family. Make sure you check the local county museums for school records!

  7. What fun it was to read the college transcripts of my maternal grandparents, who graduated in 1915 from Oregon State! I just wrote to the Registrar’s Office and requested them,including my name and relationship along with their names, and they sent me the transcripts. Really added to my picture of them. Also did this for my parents, who quit short of graduation.

  8. I have never thought of looking for school records. How do can I find Texas school records? I live in california.

  9. Any clues as to what schools were around in NYC in the 1860’s.
    My GGF came over on the Pennsylvania in 1866 or 1867. I’m clearly stuck in learning what area of Ireland he came from. I don’t even know if immigrant families sent their children to schools then. If any records some 140 years old would be still be around either. Any thoughts?

  10. When I was trying to track down my grandmother’s birthdate, I knew the day, but not the year. Fortunately, the VR of Gloucester, MA up to 1895 have been filmed. I found her in the index, then went to look at the fiche of the actual entry. Instead of the usual entry, there was a letter from the school district dated 1958 stating that in 1899 my grandmother had been a student at a specific school and that in June of that year, her parents had stated that she was 6 years and 3 months old. If you do the math, you can see that 1958 was the year that she turned 65 and needed to prove her age to claim Social Security. So even our ancestors used the school records.

    Margaret Allen makes a good point about accuracy. Apparently my parents made an error in filling out some form as I was called by my middle name the on first day of school for years. My middle name was my mother’s maiden name, which happened to be Joyce. You try convincing a third grade teacher that you know what your first name is when that is not what is on her list.

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