Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Alternatives to Published Yearbooks & Annuals

In the course of building the Southwest Michigan Yearbook Archives, obvious gaps in school collections have emerged.  In the case of Decatur High School, it seems that the school did not publish a yearbook at all between the years of 1928 & 1954.  There were editions printed as early as 1915 and they have been in continuous publication since 1955. 

There are similar gaps in many of the area yearbook collections as other schools suffered through the Great Depression and then World War II. 

The Local History Department gets countless requests every year pertaining to school yearbooks, and where before we had to simply reply that there was no book published for some years we can now offer suggestions in the form of yearbook alternatives.

Students may have purchased "My Senior Memories" scrapbooks.  Several of these have come to the Archives over the years, the most recent acquisition being the memory book of Pauline Guinnup, a member of the 1940 graduating class of Lawton High School.  

These scrapbooks are entirely created by the student and typically include:
  • Graduating Class photo composite
  • Autographs of students, teachers & administrators
  • Notes & thoughts addressed to the student from classmates
  • Snapshots of individual students and activities
  • Student name cards
  • List of graduation gifts
  • Newspaper articles regarding class activities & graduation
  • Graduation announcement and class events programs
Pauline Guinnup, Lawton HS Class of 1940
Pauline's scrapbook, which was another wonderful acquisition for us from Ebay, also came with a personal lapel pin with her picture & signature, and some personal greeting cards.

Memory Books that have been added to the collection so far represent the late 1930's and 1940's.  In a few cases where the family did not wish to part with the original book, it was provided for a brief loan period for quality color duplication. 

Yearbooks are a wonderful resource for 20th century ancestral research, giving insight to school days activities and providing an opportunity for photographs.  Where else can we learn which sports were played, of participation in clubs and organizations, and view a "snapshot" of friendships? 

So, if you have fallen victim to the "no yearbook available" response, consider that your person of interest or their classmate may have constructed a Memory Book.  Seek them out in libraries, archives, online auctions & listings, antique shops, etc.  You might also consider contacting former classmates and/or their descendants who may have these treasures tucked away.

As we continue to put together the Southwest Michigan Yearbook Archives, we would value the addition of others of these yearbook alternatives, either in their original form or a quality color duplicate.  Contact the Local History Department for more information.

Nameless Picture of the Day
unknown group
identified as taken in Pipestone (Berrien County)
cabinet card

Can you identify the location of the house in this cabinet card taken in Pipestone?  Do you recognize any of the individuals pictured? Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.