Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
A yearbook or annual, as it is sometimes known, is a book published to commemorate a single academic year, including information on students, faculty, and events. Yearbooks may be published by schools at any academic level, from college to elementary school, although most common are college and high school yearbooks. Typically academic. similar books may also be published by the military in commemoration of a particular service group or vessel. Although some evidence suggests the idea of a school yearbook can be traced back to the 1600s, the precursors to modern yearbooks date from the mid- to late-1800s. Yearbook content and style may vary from one country to another. Yearbooks often become collectors items, especially the personal yearbooks of famous people.
Yearbooks are a valuable genealogy resource and can be fun for the whole family. The most obvious value of a yearbook is pinpointing a person in time and place, in addition to seeing the photo of an ancestor at a particular age, as yearbooks typically include photos, at least in the senior year. Yearbooks are also valuable in identifying an ancestor's friends, teachers, and possibly even other family members. Yearbooks may also include important social information such as activities, clubs, leadership positions, sports, hobbies, awards, opinions, and sometimes future expectations. They may also include descriptions of character and even individual autographs. Such details can provide new and insightful information about one's ancestor; some information may even yield important research clues such as a student's hometown, middle names, or the maiden name of women. Yearbooks are considered a non-traditional source, as opposed traditional sources that document major life events. Many online resources, most of them fee-based, offer access to a variety of yearbooks. Yearbooks may also be available through school or college libraries, and some may be available through local public libraries. School Records and Yearbooks is one of the categories of resources available in the Genealogy Today Subscription Database. New records are continually being added.