Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
The word alumni refers to a graduate or former student, typically male, of a school, college, or university; although it may be broadly used to suggest a former member, employee, or associate of any organization or institution. From Latin, the word, meaning "pupil" or "foster son," has several forms which can be easily confused; thus, the term "alumni" is often broadly applied. Technically, forms of the word include, "alumnus" (plural "alumni") referring to male graduates; and "alumna" (plural "alumnae") referring to female graduates. An "alumni association" denotes a school's association of graduates, male and female.
School records of all types can be useful genealogy resources, including alumni records: rosters, lists, directories. Different title may be applied to the same type of record. Alumni rosters, lists, etc. provide information, typically, on those graduating from an institution, although it can be applied to those who attended during a particular year or time period. Alumni records can provide some important missing pieces in family history information. In addition to naming students and their graduating year, information may include middle names or initials; maiden names; current and former residences or home towns; degrees obtained; spouse names; honors and awards; post-graduate employment or careers, etc. Although scattered, online and in libraries, alumni records are quite readily available for a great many institutions. Alumni association publications are another source for providing post-graduate information, including distinguished alumni/alumnae; activities; donations, etc.