General collection information
This collection includes images of yearbooks from schools and colleges throughout the United States that were published between 1900 and 2016. The yearbooks include written content, individual student portraits, class photographs, and group photographs of school organizations and sports teams. Group photos are often, but not always, accompanied by a list of names. Information about students, teachers, and administrators can be found in the written content.
Using this collection
Records in this collection may include the following information:
Yearbooks may not provide information about the vital events usually associated with genealogical research, but they can identify where your ancestor lived at a particular point in time. Yearbooks also provide other colorful details about your ancestor's life when they were young. You are likely to find a photograph of your ancestor to see what they looked like in high school or college. If you've ever wondered whether your ancestor played sports or a musical instrument, their yearbook may give you the answer.
You may discover the world events, fads, and pop culture your ancestor lived through and what concerned and influenced students of your ancestor's era. Many yearbooks had advertising sections in the back to help pay for the publishing cost, and these advertisements can provide insights into the community where your ancestor went to school.
Collection in context
The yearbooks were created by students and faculty members at schools and colleges throughout the United States. Yearbooks are primary historical sources that may include information and images that can’t be found in other records. The original yearbooks are likely to be housed in school or public libraries.
The yearbooks in this collection have a variety of styles, but in general, there are a few trends over time. Between 1900 and 1910, the yearbooks are almost all from colleges and universities. By 1910, more high school yearbooks begin to appear in the collection, and then they increase in number throughout the 1900s. The earlier yearbooks also have fewer photographs and more written content about school organizations. Until the 1980s, photographs in yearbooks were almost always printed in black and white. Between the 1980s and 2010, yearbooks made the transition to full color. During the early 21st century, many colleges and universities have stopped publishing yearbooks, and the printed book has been challenged by the ability to produce yearbooks online.
16 Aug 2021: Added 38 million new records from existing and new books.
22 Aug 2022: Expanded date range and added over 62 million records from new books.
20 Oct 2022: Added over 65 million records from new books.
7 Sep 2023: Added over 16 million records from new books.
Merryman, Kristen. "More Than Portraits: Possibilities High School Yearbooks have for Historical Research." DigitalNC. Accessed June 9, 2023. https://www.digitalnc.org/blog/more-than-portraits-the-possibilities-yearbooks-have-for-historical-research/.