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Archive for the ‘Yearbooks’ Category

Yearbooks and How They Can Be Used

Part of Newton Free Library’s Collection of Yearbooks

Most of us are familiar with high school yearbooks. We probably have at least one from our own senior year. They may be filled with signed comments from our fellow graduates, some funny, some not so much. … Going through them brings back all sorts of memories and can spark stories. You may have tucked graduation programs and other loose mementos into it that were important to you. Collections of high school yearbooks in public libraries are potent resources that are used often and for various purposes. They can be consulted by reporters for news stories, checked by people writing biographies, searched by people looking for pictures of their parents or grandparents or for birth parents whom they have never seen.

One Special Yearbook

The yearbook with its acid-free archival case.

What is it that sparks my current focus on yearbooks? A local high school is making available to our library whatever yearbooks we need or would like to add to our collections.  A member of our reference staff, Kim Hewitt, is working with materials in our Special Collections room. In this capacity she visited the high school library to take a look at what it has. When Kim checked a copy of one 1937 Newtonian yearbook for loose ephemera, she discovered something extraordinary. Someone had kept clippings about the graduates, especially those who served in World War II. On almost every page there were tipped-in newspaper articles about graduates pictured on that page, usually stories about their military service. Some described their current activities overseas. Some were death notices. The articles span events and battles over a number of years. Personal milestones, such as marriages, are the subject of other clippings. In short, it is a genealogist’s gold mine of information.

If something has been “tipped in,” it means you can lift the material and see what’s underneath.

This yearbook has now become a part of Newton’s Special Collections. If you have a relative who graduated from Newton High School in 1937, it’s worth a look. If you are interested, its catalog title is Newton High School Class of 1937 and World War II.” The call number is N 373.34 N38M.  Clicking on the preceding title will take you directly to its entry in our online catalog.  It does not circulate and must be used within the library.

Compact Shelving with one opening. If you want to get into the first bay on the far left, all the other bays have to be moved forward.

A Note about Compact Shelving and Viewing Material from Newton’s Special Collections

Since the 1937 yearbook mentioned above is so unique and also fragile, it will be kept in what is known as compact shelving, not on the open Special Collection shelving.   Using compact shelving saves a great deal of space but requires the movement of heavy shelving electronically. Newton’s compact shelving is run by machinery that is old and can be somewhat cranky.  It needs two people to open it to retrieve material kept there. If you are thinking of coming in to look at this item, or other collections from compact shelving, it would help if you let us know in advance. If we know when you are coming, we can pull material for you ahead of time.

Actually it’s always a good idea to plan ahead with any library you are visiting. Check in advance for any special restrictions or rules for viewing or copying fragile or unique material. What are the library’s hours? Do they change depending on the season? Will the library be closed due to construction or maintenance during the period you are planning on coming? Are all its collections on site or does it need time to retrieve them from offsite storage? Whenever you request an item from a library, having its name and call number will speed up the process. Any library should allow you to search its online catalog, no matter where you live.

You and Your Own Family’s Yearbooks

Do you know if your family members, especially aunts, uncles, and grandparents, have yearbooks they would be willing to show to you? They might even share memories of their high school years and their friends.  Don’t forget that many local libraries actively collect and also accept gifts of high school yearbooks. Each one that has been owned by a graduate has unique inscriptions by classmates and some may have the owner’s own notations. Public libraries located near where your relatives or ancestors lived may have their own such treasure troves from their local schools.  Some may even have been given to them by your relatives or their friends. It’s worth checking. While you’re at it, don’t forget to look in your own attic, basement, or bookcase. Do you have your parents’ or grandparents’ yearbooks?  You might want to take a closer look at them. You never know when you’ll strike unexpected gold. And if you find them in the basement or attic, you might want to move them to a bookcase on your main floor. They’ll last longer.

Good luck with your quest, wherever it takes you.

vea/13 June 2017
Newton Free Library
Newton, Mass
Library website:  http://www.newtonfreelibrary.net
Genealogy blog:  https://thecuriousgenealogist.wordpress.com
Genealogy LibGuide:  
http://guides.newtonfreelibrary.net

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