28 August 2010

Ancestry.com: Yearbook collection launched

From Ancestry.com, comes news of the largest searchable online yearbook collection.

The US School Yearbook Collection - 10,000 yearbooks - now includes 60 million records for mere mortals as well as celebs.

The books include high schools, junior highs, academies, colleges and universities - military, public, parochial and private - from nearly every US state from 1875-1988.

Thank your lucky stars that New York's High School of Music & Art isn't included. You really don't want to see that "plastic" flip hairdo that required a full can of hairspray. Really.

While searches for various New York and Massachusetts relatives proved futile, our Seattle JASSEN family showed both my cousin Charlie at his high school and at UWashington and, a few decades later, his son Larry.

Celebrity-seekers, according to Ancestry, will find a goldmine in this collection, Tracing the Tribe doesn't care much about Sandra Bullock's Homecoming Dance photo. However, if you are looking for some interesting names, the Beverly Hills High yearbooks are always good for a treat - there were many familiar Hollywood names in the 1934 book, which also has Lionel Barrymore's signature on a message to a "silent partner."

If you are an Ancestry subscription holder, access is free. Others can get a 14-day free trial.

Search the collection here.

CAVEAT: It seems many large metropolitan cities are thin on the ground in the Ancestry collection, but there are other sources to research:

-- Steve Morse's work for Samuel J. Tilden HS (Brooklyn, NY). This produced photos of my uncle '53, my sister in '70, my mother's year wasn't there). Steve was '57).

-- The JGS of Long Island's collection (1,634 yearbooks from everywhere).

-- Steve Lasky's Thomas Jefferson High School Yearbook Project (Brooklyn, NY).

The Tilden and Jefferson books are excellent resources for Jewish genealogists, as they were both in largely Jewish neighborhoods until the early 1970s.

There's always Classmates.com, but few yearbooks seem to be posted, and to see those that are, you must upgrade ($) to gold membership for access to more features. E-Yearbook.com is another.

Have fun!

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