Have you considered enhancing your genealogy using yearbooks? Old yearbooks can add a lot of detail to your family history!
A great way to find a photo!
Although often overlooked by genealogists, yearbooks are are great source of photos. In the older yearbooks, often only the seniors are pictured, either as an individual portrait or a group photo. Underclassmen will be pictured in photos relating to sports and clubs (which hopefully have the names labeled!). So, make sure to look through the whole yearbook.
How involved was the person?
A yearbook will give insight into the person’s personality by showing how active (or inactive) the person was in clubs and sports. Finding your ancestor as Class President or in the same clubs as you can be exciting. Remember that not finding the person in extracurricular activities does not always mean that they were uninterested. It may have been that their family needed the person home after school or didn’t have the funds for an instrument that the person wanted to play in the band. Be careful when making judgments about the person.
Are there unknown relatives in the same school?
One yearbook will often contain siblings and cousins, so those with the same surname should be added into the genealogy to-do-list to research further. Grades that the person are in does not necessarily mean that they were a particular age. Students get held back or start school at different ages. Siblings in the same class photo does not automatically mean that they were twins!
Where to find old yearbooks?
- Ask family members if they have any old yearbooks
- Search for websites and databases dedicated to yearbooks. Examples include Ancestry’s U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 Database and a long list on Cyndi’s List – Schools – Yearbooks and Annuals.
- You can also contact the school, if it still exists. Many schools have an archive of their school’s yearbooks.
- Check with a historical society or library from the area.
Genealogy using Yearbooks
Yearbooks are definitely worth reviewing and not a commonly thought of source. If you have the opportunity, seek them out and you’ll be surprised the amount of information you find.